BEIJING (Bloomberg) -- Beijing Automotive Group Co., which manufactures vehicles with Daimler AG and Hyundai Motor Co. in China, started a unit to spearhead acquisitions abroad, starting with Europe.
"We will do everything in our power to explore overseas markets," Beijing Auto Chairman Xu Heyi said Saturday in Beijing. "Establishment of this unit puts us at a new historical threshold."
Investment banks have identified three medium-sized automakers with "good brand image" in Europe, said Dong Haiyang, president of the company's newly established BAIC International Development Co.
"We want to acquire such mid-sized brands in Europe while the economy is sluggish so we can use their facilities as a production base to expand there," Dong said at a press conference on Saturday.
Beijing Auto builds vehicles with Daimler and Hyundai Motor in China. The carmaker plans to have 2.5 billion yuan ($408 million) of profit from abroad with a vehicle-sales target of 400,000 units by 2020.
The company has said it plans to make "world-class" vehicles by 2025. It has hired Ferrari designer Leonardo Fioravanti to improve its brand appeal.
Beijing Auto's Senova sedan was developed using technology bought from Saab in 2009.
"We will do everything in our power to explore overseas markets," Beijing Auto Chairman Xu Heyi said on Saturday. "Establishment of this unit puts us at a new historical threshold."
BAIC International Development Co. will be in charge of overseas acquisitions and investment as well as boosting international vehicle and parts sales.
State-owned Beijing Auto joins SAIC Motor Corp. and Great Wall Motor in seeking new markets as competition intensifies at home. SAIC owns UK-based MG Motor, which assembles cars in Longbridge, England, and Great Wall Motor opened a vehicle factory in Bulgaria in February 2012.
Beijing Auto is seeking an initial public offering in Hong Kong as early as this year to help expand vehicle sales more than 70 percent by 2015 from a target of 2.1 million units this year, Chairman Xu said in March.