HONG KONG - BMW AG said on Wednesday it is not worried about a messy ownership wrangle at its Chinese partner and expects Beijing to grant final approval soon for its mainland joint venture.
"We want to have the first BMW car roll off the production line by the end of the year," BMW spokesman Ma Qingsheng told Reuters by phone from Beijing.
"If we can get the approval within the first quarter of this year, this plan we think we can still follow," he said.
BMW and its partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, which is China's largest van maker, plan to make as many as 30,000 BMW 3 series and 5 series cars annually in the northeastern province of Liaoning.
However, Brilliance, which is controlled by the Liaoning provincial government, is engaged in a Bermuda court battle with its former chairman Yang Rong, who was once among China's richest men but is now in the United States and has been sought by mainland authorities for alleged economic crimes.
The court, however, still plans to hear Yang's case, Yang's attorney Wang Hai told Reuters on Wednesday.
BMW's Ma said the battle at Brilliance would not affect the joint venture, and said the firm expects that final regulatory approvals would be forthcoming "very soon."
"We are confident that the project will go on as we planned," he said.
Like most global carmakers, BMW covets China's mushrooming auto sector, where passenger car sales rose 56 percent last year to nearly 1.13 million vehicles.