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Paper Says Piaggio Considering Offer for Daimler's smart

FRANKFURT, Jan 22, 2006; Reuters rported that Italian scooter maker Piaggio is pondering a takeover offer for DaimlerChrylser's loss-making Smart car unit, Automotive News Europe reported, quoting sources familiar with the matter.

In an article to be published on Monday, Automotive News Europe said that Goldman Sachs, on behalf of Daimler, contacted Piaggio's majority shareholder Immsi in Milan to gauge its interest in buying Smart.

An Immsi spokesman told Reuters, however, that Piaggio was not looking at such a deal.

"Regarding the article by Automotive News Europe, Piaggio denies in the most categorical manner that it is studying any hypothesis relative to the acquisition of Smart," he said.

The paper said that Immsi had confirmed the approach by Goldman Sachs but refused to comment on whether it was preparing a bid.

Daimler hired Goldman Sachs in January to screen approaches for Smart, saying it would consider partnerships between Smart and other groups.

However, Daimler has said that it does not want to sell Smart.

"A sale of Smart is not on the agenda," a Daimler spokesman said on Sunday.