BEIJING (Reuters) -- Top Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corp. said it plans to set up a 51-49 percent auto sales company with its long-time partner General Motors.
The move is a sign that the two sides are close to a deal which will allow GM to buy back the 1 percent stake in its 49-51 flagship Shanghai car venture with SAIC, industry observers say.
Shanghai GM, which makes Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac models, had previously been a 50-50 partnership.
In a deal the two sides signed in 2009 when GM was trying to raise cash, GM received an option allowing it to buy back the 1 percent stake in the venture it sold to SAIC for $85 million.
SAIC said earlier it is ready to give up its majority ownership in Shanghai GM as long as the venture's revenue can still be included in its books, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters in September.
Under Chinese accounting rules that came into effect in 2010, a subsidiary's revenue can be reflected in the books of the parent only if the parent is the majority shareholder.
One possible option to allow SAIC to demonstrate some form of control would be to incorporate a sales company for Shanghai GM that would also be majority-held by SAIC, analysts have said.