SHANGHAI - China's second-biggest automaker, Shanghai Auto, aims to raise output by a quarter this year to one million units, mostly through ventures with foreign players such as Volkswagen, a top executive said on Friday.
It wants to squeeze into the elite Fortune 500 circle of the world's largest companies this year -- despite having no sedan to call its own and having to rely mostly on its partners' technology and expertise.
State-run Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., a partner of General Motors' and Volkswagen AG's in the world's fastest-growing major vehicle market, may float shares in coming years, possibly overseas, president Hu Maoyuan told reporters.
"Hopefully, we'll achieve our target of producing one million vehicles and becoming a Fortune 500 company three years ahead of schedule," Hu told reporters. "A listing plan is under consideration, but it's not the only option."
Hu did not offer a breakdown in terms of individual ventures with GM or Volkswagen.
In 2003, Shanghai Auto sold about 800,000 vehicles, including 597,000 passenger cars. Its car sales -- all via ventures with foreign partners -- jumped 45 percent last year.
But the slowing of China's economy and Beijing's efforts to cool lending may spark a sharp drop in demand, analyst say.
Plus, multinationals have unveiled plans to spend $13 billion to expand capacity by six million units in coming years, which analysts say could foment a margin-slicing glut.
Shanghai Auto has been casting acquisitive glances at overseas targets, as it is keen to build its own brand, Hu said.
It has been in talks to purchase South Korea's debt-laden Ssangyong Motor Co.
"The bidding is ongoing. SAIC is the only Chinese company approved by the government to bid for Ssangyong," Hu said, reiterating previous statements.
Creditors of Ssangyong have resumed talks with foreign investors to sell the car maker, with the aim of naming a preferred bidder this month, a creditor said last week.
A deal to sell the debt-ridden Korean firm to Chinese chemicals firm Blue Star was said to have fallen apart in March because of pricing differences, though Ssangyong executives insist Blue Star is still in the running.