KUALA LUMPUR -- Germany's Continental AG, the world's fourth-largest tire maker, said on Wednesday it had bought 30 percent of the tire unit of Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby's for $31 million.
Continental has the option of buying a further 21 percent in Sime's SDC Tyre Sdn Bhd by 2005, giving it control of the Malaysian company and access to the nine other markets of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"Together with our partner, we now have a solid production and sales basis, which will make the ASEAN and Australian markets accessible to us, and considerably increase our market share," Continental Chairman Manfred Wennemer said at a signing ceremony.
He said the new company would aim for a 20 percent share of the ASEAN tire market, which sees annual sales of more than 29 million car tires, more than twice the yearly volume in China.
"Twenty percent is clearly a benchmark that we want to achieve," Wennemer told reporters after the signing.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.