South Korea's anti-trust watchdog on Friday said it had approved the sale of Ssangyong Motor to Mahindra and Mahindra.

The green light from the Fair Trade Commission followed Mahindra's due diligence on the Korean firm, AFP reported. The commission said the deal would enhance competition in the domestic market and increase Ssangyong's exports.

The Indian company signed a preliminary agreement to buy a controlling stake in Ssangyong in August. A Mahindra executive had said a final agreement was expected in November.

Ssangyong, South Korea's smallest carmaker, mainly manufactures low-priced but robust SUVs. It also makes sedans.

It was granted court protection from creditors in February 2009 after rising oil prices and slowing demand due to the global crisis hit SUV sales. Former Chinese parent Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp declined to inject more funds.

Ssangyong has struggled to stay afloat since a violent strike over job cuts disrupted production for almost 80 days last year.

If the deal goes through, Mahindra would become the second Indian carmaker to enter the South Korean market after Tata Motors, which bought truckmaker Daewoo Commercial Vehicle in 2004.

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