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Hyundai eyes possible Chrysler purchase
Add Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. to the list of potential suitors for the Chrysler Group.  It's been less than a week since DaimlerChrysler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche said all options are on the table for the Auburn Hills-based group, declining to rule out a sale. That prompted worldwide speculation about potential buyers.

German and American reports last week said General Motors Corp. was talking about a purchase or partnership to produce vehicles with Chrysler.

Now the Sunday Times of London is reporting that Hyundai is eyeing Chrysler, in part because of interest in the U.S. company's dealer network. Hyundai spokesman Oles Gadacz told Bloomberg News that the report was "groundless speculation."

The Times also said on its Web site that U.S. investment bank JP Morgan, which has reportedly been advising on Chrysler's future, is preparing memorandums to send to potential buyers this week.

"It doesn't surprise me. I am sure there are a lot of people chumming the waters now," Erich Merkle, an auto analyst with IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, said Sunday.

Merkle said that Hyundai could benefit from Chrysler's pickups and Jeep brand, all while dramatically increasing the Korean company's place in the U.S. market.

"It's a much more appropriate fit for Hyundai than GM," Merkle said. "It would allow them to grow very quickly."

It also would not be a new relationship.

Hyundai, DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. have a five-factory venture called Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance, which includes a state-of-the-art plant in Dundee.

DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai also tried an alliance in a 50-50 commercial-truck venture, but it never got off the ground. In 2004, DaimlerChrysler announced it was selling its 10.5% stake in Hyundai after the two sides said they didn't need each other.

"We haven't received one single bit of support from DaimlerChrysler," Hyundai Vice Chairman Kim Dong-jin said at the time. "Circumstances have changed. ... We don't feel the need for a foreign partner." More at Detroit Free Press

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