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from a story in the AP

DaimlerChrysler AG is considering two possible partners to build a subcompact car, Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche was quoted as saying Monday.
"We have spoken with a handful of possible partners, and there are two left now," Zetsche told the Frankfurter Allgeimene Zeitung in an interview. "No contract has been signed yet. I hope that there will be a decision this year."

Zetsche did not name the potential partners or the other companies with which the German-U.S. automaker has held talks.

Media speculation has centered on Chinese manufacturer Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. as a potential partner to help DaimlerChrysler build smaller cars for the North American and international markets.

Last month, Chrysler Chief Executive Tom LaSorda said an alliance with a Chinese manufacturer has not been ruled out.

Asked whether he feared Chrysler being viewed as giving a Chinese manufacturer a foothold in America, Zetsche replied: "One of the reasons why we have not reached a conclusion yet with the possible partners has to do with the question of how we avoid that."

Zetsche added that "there is no doubt that not just Chery, but other Chinese competitors will sell their products in America and the rest of the world, with us or without us."

DaimlerChrysler has acknowledged that Chrysler will lose more than previously predicted this year and reduced its 2006 operating profit forecast. The company is to issue its third-quarter earnings figures on Wednesday.

On Monday, shares of DaimlerChrysler were down about half a percent at $52.05 in Frankfurt trading.
 
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