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Ford raises stake in China's Jiangling Motors

BEIJING (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co has raised its stake in Jiangling Motors Corp Ltd <000550.SZ> to 31.5 percent and is looking to increase it to as much as 32 percent over the next year, both companies said on Wednesday.

Ford has bought 13,002,396 of Jiangling's Hong Kong dollar-denominated B-shares <200550.SZ> so far this year, accounting for roughly 1.5 percent of the Chinese automaker's outstanding shares, Jiangling said in a stock exchange filing, adding it was a sign of confidence in it by the U.S. carmaker.

Ford said it may raise its stake to 32 percent, the limit currently allowed by the securities regulator. After the latest purchase Ford's stake is worth about $705 million.

"We will continue to evaluate the market for JMC equity and may purchase the remaining portion of the 2 percentage points between now and January 20, 2014," it said in a brief statement.

During the first three months of this year, Jiangling, which makes JMC light trucks, SUVs, and Ford's Transit van, sold 56,420 vehicles, up 7.1 percent from a year earlier, outperforming a 2.5 percent gain in China's overall commercial vehicle sales.

Jiangling's yuan-denominated A-shares climbed 0.2 percent to 16.4 yuan in mid morning trading, outperforming a 0.3 percent fall in the CSI300 index of top Chinese companies <.CSI300>.

(Reporting by Fang Yan in BEIJING and Kazunori Takada in SHANGHAI; Editing by Matt Driskill)