BEIJING -- First Automotive Works (FAW), China's largest vehicle maker and partner of Volkswagen A.G., is interested in listing abroad within the next five years, its top executive said on Wednesday.
FAW, which also has partnerships with Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Co., would join rival Shanghai Automotive in seeking to raise funds on the global market.
"We would be interested, but we have to make sure the timing is appropriate," FAW chief executive Zhu Yanfeng told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference, without giving a definite timeframe.
When asked if it would be within the next five years, he said: "It won't be that far off."
"The requirements for listing overseas are very different from the domestic ones," he said, without elaborating.
Shanghai Auto, which makes cars with Volkswagen and General Motors, is gearing up for a listing at home or abroad that could raise as much as $2 billion.
FAW is based in the frigid northeastern city of Changchun, and makes the Red Flag sedans, once favored by Communist Party cadres. While it makes more vehicles than any Chinese rival, Shanghai Auto leads in passenger cars.
The auto maker reaped earnings of 4.5 billion yuan ($557 million) in 2004, but a spokesman warned earlier this summer that the company would not meet its 2005 profit target after a dismal first half.
It reported first-half sales of 456,600 units, less than half its stated full-year target of 1.07 million vehicles, and a profit of just 18 million yuan.
Zhu said the company, which builds VW's Jetta, Audi and Bora sedans in a joint venture with the German company, would sell "more than" one million units this year, about the same as 2004.
China, once an easy profit center for global car makers such as GM, has become one of the industry's most intense battlegrounds, prompting firms to slash prices and launch models to lure customers back to the showroom.
Analysts have said car sales are expected to grow 10 to 15 percent this year, matching growth in 2004 but well off a doubling in 2003.