Shares in Antonov, which has developed an innovative automatic transmission for motor vehicles, jumped 15½p to 51p on Tuesday after the company said it had signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Honda, The Financial Times reported.

The FT added that Manchester, UK company said the deal included a separate technical services agreement with Honda’s research and development arm.

Antonov and Honda would not reveal financial aspects of either agreement under which Honda can make worldwide use of patents for its AAD (Antonov Automatic Drive) transmission, the newspaper said. The transmission is claimed to be smaller, lighter and more fuel-efficient than traditional transmissions, the FT added.

The FT said Antonov, which has reported pre-tax losses of about £2 million ($US2.8 million) in each of the three years up to 2000, was formed in 1991 to develop the transmission, conceived by Roumon Antonov, the founder and chairman.

A few car makers had expressed interest in the transmission over the years, the FT said.

But the newspaper added that Daihatsu has ended its involvement because test results weren#;t significantly better than those achieved with in-house transmissions.

The FT said that Antonov also has licensing agreements with German transmission maker NZWL, which supplies DaimlerChrysler, and Indian engineer Gajra.

Antonov chief executive Mike Emmerson told the FT that NZWL would make a transmission for a small car due for launch in 2004 and that Gajra was building prototype transmissions for Suzuki to trial in India.

“This is our first licence to one of the world’s leading car companies,” Antonov said in a statement.

“It represents a milestone in our history. I believe this can be the catalyst for further agreements with major car and transmission manufacturers.”