MINI to build cars in China with Great Wall

A man takes a look at second-hand BMW cars at a dealer shop in Beijing. Kim Kyung Hoon  Reuters

BMW AG is working on a deal to outsource the manufacturing of Mini cars in China to Great Wall Motor Co, the country's biggest SUV maker, according to people with knowledge of the plan. It is the country's second-largest premium brand after Volkswagen AG's Audi AG.

Vehicle manufacturers have recently announced a raft of investments and tie-ups in China.

However, BMW Group is facing the same financial headwinds as most other automakers as they transition to electrification.

The agreement would mark the first time the Mini would be produced outside of Europe and units could be exported to markets beyond China.

FILE PHOTO: A Great Wall Motors Haval HB-02 concept vehicle is presented during the Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing, China, April 29, 2016.

"China has made it clear that basically it will not approve of new gasoline-car partnerships".

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Munich has already been building BMWs in China with Brilliance Auto since 2003. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA said his company won't consider selling Jeep as a separate entity and rejected the idea of making a deal with Chinese rival Great Wall Motor Co, reports Bloomberg.

A Great Wall official declined to comment. Local media speculation of a tie-up with BMW sent its shares soaring 14% Wednesday, prompting suspension in trading.

Great Wall's Shanghai-listed shares have been suspended since late last month.

Brilliance China rises 1.2% to HK$21.50 after three-day losing streak.

Brokerage Jefferies said in a note that it was "understandable that BMW needs a new partner to defend its market share in a more competitive market", and expected that the move would hit current partner Brilliance.

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