Updated from 8:40 a.m. EST
is planning to jump into the ring to bid against
, a move that, if successful, would make Ford the world's largest car manufacturer.
The Wall Street Journal
cited Ford vice chairman W. Wayne Booker as saying Ford intends to take on GM in the auction of Daewoo, an insolvent South Korean car maker.
Daewoo will reportedly send out invitations this week inviting about 10 potential buyers to participate in an international auction.
are also reported to be on the invitation list.
In December GM put the auction in motion with a $6 billion offer for most of Daewoo's assets, valued at about $11 billion.
The battle for Daewoo, which owes about $16 billion, is largely seen as a battle for world domination. Control of Daewoo, which has the capacity to make 2 million cars a year, would secure GM's position as global leader or give Ford the edge. Ford made a series of acquisitions in 1999, positioning it to overtake GM.
Jim Bright, public affairs director for Ford's Asia Pacific operations, said the acquisition of Daewoo would also give the company a foothold in the smaller, less-expensive car sector as well as in Eastern Europe and Asia. The Asian market is expected to account for 70% of the growth in the world market over the next five years.
"If you look at North America, Europe and Japan, they are mature markets with little room to grow," said Bright. "Most of the growth will occur in emerging Asian markets where Daewoo has a presence."
Ford has been assessing Daewoo's financials since January and Bright said that until now they "haven't seen anything to cool our interest."
Bright noted that he did not expect South Korea to outline the process for selling Daewoo until after the country's April elections. (Ford stock closed up 15/16, or 2%, at 47 1/16. GM closed up 1 1/16, or 1.4%, at 75.)