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Toyota board to consider expanded alliance with Mazda

Aug 3 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp on Thursday said its board of directors will consider a proposal about further partnership with rival Mazda Motor Corp, after a report the Japanese automakers plan to build a factory together in the United States.

Japan's Nikkei reported on Thursday that Toyota would take a roughly 5 percent stake in Mazda Motor Corp to establish a U.S. auto plant and develop key electric vehicle technologies.

The deal could be announced as soon as Friday, the newspaper said. (http://s.nikkei.com/2wpAbhk)

Toyota, in a statement, said the two companies have been exploring various areas of collaboration under a May 2015 agreement.

"We intend to submit a proposal to our board of directors today regarding the partnership with Mazda, however, we would like to refrain from providing further comment at this time," Toyota said in a statement issued by its U.S. operations.

Toyota, the world's second largest automaker by vehicle sales in 2016 and Japan's dominant car company, has been forging alliances with smaller Japanese rivals for several years, effectively consolidating the Japanese auto sector.

If Toyota and Mazda agree to build an assembly plant in the United States, it would likely become the prize in a fierce competition among Midwestern and Southern states eager to expand manufacturing jobs.

President Donald Trump in January criticized Toyota for importing cars to the United States from Mexico, and has made it a top priority to increase the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs. (Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Supriya Kurane and Tom Brown)