Chohung Bank has confirmed it has signed a preliminary deal with China's state-run National Blue Star Group to sell its 49% stake in the South Korean car maker.
The deal, expected to be finalised by March, will not affect existing European distribution agreements, including that in the UK where SsangYong UK has a two-year rolling contract, the company said.
Before making its final offer in late January, Blue Star will undertake a three-week inspection of the SsangYong accounts and a final formal contract is expected to be signed by the end of March 2004.
In 2002 SsangYong built 161,000 vehicles with only 12,277 sold outside its domestic market. It was put up for sale following the collapse of its parent company, the Daewoo Group, in 1999 with debts of $80 billion. GM bought some of Daewoo's operations in 2002 but not SsangYong.
Tom Martin, sales and marketing director of SsangYong UK, recently confirmed to Interchange that European sales through independent distributors would remain in place whoever bought the manufacturer. SYUK has a two-year rolling contract like most distributors under the new EU Block exemption agreement, he said.
SYUK expects to sell about 2,500 Rexton 4x4s in the UK and another 500 in southern and Northern Ireland in 2004.
Martin said: 'Plans are in hand to extend the range with a large 4x4 MPV and possibly double cab pick-ups within the next year.'