• Kyodo

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Mazda Motor Corp. is in talks with Itochu Corp. to purchase the distribution rights for Mazda cars in Britain as part of efforts to boost European sales, Mazda President Mark Fields said Friday.

Mazda hopes that more than 70 percent of its annual European car sales will be handled by its directly managed distribution units by the end of the year.

Mazda cars are currently sold in Britain through Mazda Cars (U.K.) Ltd., a joint venture 60 percent owned by Itochu and 40 percent by Inchcape PLC, a British car sale firm.

Upon obtaining the distribution rights, Mazda, 33.4 percent owned by Ford Motor Co., plans to set up a wholly owned car sales company in Britain by the middle of the year, a Mazda spokeswoman said.

In February, Mazda also agreed to buy the rights to distribute its vehicles in France from Inchcape.

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