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Mazda takes 15 percent stake in Ford's Chinese venture


TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp. said on Tuesday it had taken a 15 percent stake in Ford Motor Co.'s main Chinese joint venture in a widely expected move aimed at strengthening the three-way partnership.

Mazda bought the stake from Ford for an undisclosed sum late last month, leaving the U.S. automaker with 35 percent of the venture, a Mazda spokesman said.

Changan Automotive Group holds the other half of the venture, renamed Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co.

"This will ... expand the possibility of further cooperation among the partners," Kiyoshi Ozaki, a senior managing executive in charge of Mazda's China strategy, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The joint venture began building the Hiroshima-based company's Mazda3 model at its plant in Chongqing, southwestern China, at the end of February.

The three partners are also building a new engine factory and a 160,000-unit assembly plant in Nanjing, both due to begin operations in 2007. They are also boosting capacity in Chongqing to 200,000 units a year by this May, from 150,000 units now.

Mazda, in which Ford has a controlling one-third stake, is targeting sales of 300,000 units in China in 2010. Last year, sales came to a record 133,778 vehicles.
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