BERLIN -- German auto group DaimlerChrysler AG is looking for partners to back its troubled small car unit, Smart, business daily Handelsblatt said on Thursday, quoting an unnamed member on the group's supervisory board.
"We have to try to find new cooperation partners for Smart production," it quoted the supervisory board member as saying.
The paper quoted unnamed company sources as saying initial talks had already been held with other manufacturers over a possible cooperation in Smart production.
A spokesman for Europe's biggest car maker, Volkswagen AG denied it had talked to DaimlerChrysler about a deal over Smart, as the report suggested.
"That's pure speculation. There's nothing in it," the spokesman said.
Smart has piled up big losses since production began in 1998 and there has been speculation incoming Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche, due to replace Juergen Schrempp from the end of the year, could look for extra cost cuts at the unit.
A supervisory board source told Reuters this week that, under Zetsche, Smart could be robbed of its last remaining independence and be integrated into the main Mercedes-Benz unit.