Be honest now. If you were shopping for a car, would Beijing Auto Group (BAIC) spring to mind?
No, probably not. But although it is almost completely unknown in the West, BAIC is Daimler's partner in China and bought some of the assets of Saab, formerly owned by GM, a few years back.
China's fifth-largest automaker, BAIC already makes Mercedes and Hyundai-branded cars for sale in China. It also makes and sells cars that are basically Saabs but can't sell them under that name.
BAIC has been looking for a way to break into the U.S. and Western Europe but recognizes that its brand is unknown outside China. Building a new brand from scratch is a long process, unless you're Elon Musk, so BAIC is looking at a speedier option -- buying an existing brand.
The company said last year that it was looking to buy a European brand and Reuters now reports the search has been extended to the United States.
"We have candidates," the news service quoted BAIC executive Dong Haiyang as saying.
The recessions in Western markets have weakened many automakers, especially those in the crowded mid-price market.
Dong didn't specify which companies he was eyeing.