Volvo AB has asked the European Union Commission for more time to dispose of its large stake in rival Swedish truck maker Scania AB, a Volvo spokesman told Volvo spokesman Maarten Wikforss on Thursday, though he reportedly declined to comment on the details.

Dow Jones said Swedish daily Dagens Industri reported that Volvo has asked the commission to extend its April 2004 deadline by a year.

"Our main goal is, of course, to sell these shares. Nothing has changed in that respect. But we don't want to paint ourselves into a corner," Wikforss told Dow Jones Newswires. "This would allow us to keep all of our options open."

Dow Jones noted that Volvo bought its stake in Scania in an attempted takeover that was blocked by European anti-trust authorities in 2000.

The company has been concerned that the April deadline could force it into a cut-price sale of the shares, which it bought well above their current price, the report added.

As an alternative to selling its 45.5% stake in Scania, Volvo may distribute the shares to its shareholders, analysts say, according to Dow Jones.

The report said that Scania wants to see the original deadline upheld, arguing the uncertainty about Volvo's plans is hurting its business. Volvo was originally supposed to shed the stake by last April, but was given another year because of the low price of Scania's shares, the report added.

Scania has now asked a court that oversees the EU Commission to let it see the original agreement between Volvo and the commission and to evaluate whether the commission has handled the situation appropriately so far, company spokesman Hans-Aake Danielsson told Dow Jones Newswires.

If the EU approves Volvo's request and extends next year's deadline, Scania plans to file a suit to block the move, Danielsson added, according to the report.

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