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Hyundai Denies Report of Chrysler Deal

Hyundai Motor, the world's sixth-largest automaker, on Monday denied a British newspaper report that it is interested in acquiring Chrysler, the U.S. unit of German automaker DaimlerChrysler .

"We are not considering to buy Chrysler because our hands are full," Hyundai spokesman Jake Jang said, responding to a report in The Times newspaper that the South Korean automaker was among companies interested in bidding for the Chrysler Group.

The Times reported on its Web site that Hyundai was thought to be interested in joining possible bidders for the U.S. automaker, without citing specific sources. The paper said that Hyundai was believed to be interested in gaining access to Chrysler's network of dealerships in the U.S.

Speculation regarding Chrysler has intensified since Wednesday, when DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said the automaker would not rule out a possible sale of its U.S. operations, which it acquired in 1998.

Zetsche, who formerly led Chrysler Group, said the German company is considering all options for its U.S. operation, including strategic partners.

Automotive News, a trade publication, reported last week that General Motors is in talks to acquire Chrysler. GM and Chrysler officials declined to comment on the Automotive News report, which cited sources in Germany and the U.S. whom it did not identify.

Hyundai currently has an engine alliance with Chrysler and Japan's Mitsubishi Motors under which Hyundai allows those companies to manufacture engines based on Hyundai design, Jang said.

Hyundai is in the middle of an aggressive overseas expansion, with plants either completed or under construction in the United States, China and the Czech Republic. Affiliate Kia Motors' expansion plans include a factory in the United States.

The denial is not the fist time that Hyundai has quashed speculation regarding a possible overseas acquisition.

The automaker said in August that it had no interest in acquiring Ford Motor's luxury Jaguar brand, citing its priority of expanding production at overseas plants.

Hyundai has been mired in trouble for most of the past year. Net profit fell every quarter last year as the company dealt with the effects of a rising South Korean currency and chronic strikes.

Earlier this month, Hyundai Chairman Chung Mong-koo was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzlement and breach of trust. He is appealing the verdict and remains free to run the company.

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