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Hella and BAIC executives meet to sign their joint venture agreement (Photo: Hella)

Hella plans to expand its Chinese activities into passenger car lighting systems by teaming up with BAIC, one of the country's biggest automotive groups.

The German automotive lighting specialist said BAIC will own 50 pc of a local lighting systems joint venture, Beijing-based Hella Beifang Automotive Lighting Co. Ltd. (HBL).

Until now, Hella has mostly been a supplier of lighting and electronics applications for commercial vehicles in the China. But, with its new partner, the company hopes to expand its Chinese operations into a full-service provider for passenger car lighting systems.

"The partnership with BAIC offers us a great chance to grow," said Joerg Buchheim, CEO of Hella China.

HBL, which was founded in 2002, employs around 400 people. Overall, Hella has 3,500 staff in China at nine production, development and adinistrative locations.

The group's Chinese operations have annual sales of about 350 million euros or roughly 7 pc of global group sales.