• Kyodo

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German-U.S. auto giant DaimlerChrysler AG has long-term plans to take a majority stake in partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp., according to Juergen Schrempp, chief executive officer at DaimlerChrysler, in an interview made available Sunday.

“So far, we own a 37.3 percent stake and we can take the majority in 2003 at the earliest. But first, Mitsubishi has to be profitable again and has to reduce its debt,” Schrempp told German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published in its latest edition, which hits newsstands Monday.

“This (taking over the majority in Mitsubishi) is obviously our long-term goal,” Schrempp was quoted as saying. DaimlerChrysler took a 34 percent stake in MMC in 2000 as part of its alliance with MMC in the car business.

In 2001, it raised its stake to 37.3 percent and expanded the alliance to include the bus and truck business.

MMC Vice President Rolf Eckrodt, sent by DaimlerChrysler, is to become MMC’s next president and chief executive officer in June.

Schrempp said in the interview that MMC has a strong foothold in the Asian market and has boosted its presence in the U.S., adding that DaimlerChrysler’s investment in MMC enabled it to expand into the Asian market with relatively little risk.

Aichi Steel joint venture

Aichi Steel Corp. said Monday it will set up a joint venture in Shanghai with three other firms in May to produce crankshafts and other forged automobile parts.

Shanghai Aichi Forging Co., to be capitalized at $15 million, will be owned 42 percent by Aichi Steel, 40 percent by China’s Shanghai Automotive Forging Works and 9 percent each by Japanese trading firms Sumitomo Corp. and Toyota Tsusho Corp., the company said in a release.

Aichi Steel and Toyota Tsusho are both affiliates of Toyota Motor Corp.

Aichi Steel said the new company, set to begin operations in June, will produce forged automobile parts for China and Southeast Asian countries by taking over Shanghai Automotive’s existing factory there.

It expects to sell 10,000 tons worth of products in its first year of operations gradually increasing production to 27,000 tons by 2006, Aichi Steel said. Clients will include Volkswagen AG, General Motors Corp. and Toyota, it said.

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