Renault, M&M among 7 companies vying for South Korean SUV maker Ssangyong Motor

Seven companies, including French carmaker Renault SA, India's Mahindra & Mahindra, South Korea's Young An Hat, have put in a preliminary bids for acquiring troubled South Korean SUV maker Ssangyong Motor, reports quoting unnamed sources said today.

The names of the bidders to buy the country's smallest carmaker, which specialises in sport-utility vehicles, remain unknown after the application process for bids was closed yesterday. Market watchers speculate that the Renault group, which owns Renault Samsung, is one of them.

Ssangyong, the smallest South Korean carmaker, is the process of a court-led restructuring since early 2009. It was put up for sale this month, after two consecutive years of shortfalls.

Though not fancied by South Korean automakers as an acquisition target, Ssanyong Motor seems to be popular with foreign automakers, with a number of foreign companies eyeing the bankrupt South Korean automaker.

Shares of the automaker hit the 15 per cent daily limit today on reports of French automaker Renault joining the race for
Ssangyong, along with India's Mahindra & Mahindra, South Korea's Young An Hat which owns a bus maker, and local private equity fund Seoul Invest. The deadline for binding offers is 20 July.

The company, under court protection since early 2009, has only a 2 per cent of South Korea's auto market after suffering losses over the past two years. Analysts are therefore not sure how much the deal would help a prospective foreign buyer strengthen its presence in Korean market.