China's top automaker will resume building MG sports cars in Britain in August 2008.

SAIC president Chen Hong told a June 17 shareholders meeting the company would start selling British-made MG TF sports cars in the United Kingdom via more than 40 dealers at the end of August or in early September.

"We will do it step by step," Chen said. "We will start with Britain and consider selling to other markets eventually."

SAIC also runs car ventures with GM and VW and is among a growing army of Chinese automakers aiming to make a name globally. Chen said it would roll out more MG variants and new models in the coming years in an effort to revive the failed British car brand.

It became the latest owner of MG Rover's 10 000-unit Longbridge plant in Birmingham after a buying out its much smaller rival Nanjing late in 2007.

The facility was acquired by Nanjing in 2005; it re-started MG TF production there in May 2007 but ran into financial difficulty.

"Capacity is not an issue for us at the UK plant," Chen added. "We need to develop new models while keeping the original flavour of the MG brand."

SAIC rolled out its first self-developed car, the Roewe 750, based on acquired technology, in March 2007 and sold about 16 000 in its frost year.

Chen said SAIC aimed to more than triple sales of its own-brand cars to 50 000 in 2008 as it rolled out more new models, including a Roewe 550, catering to various market segments. The company plans to add more assembly lines to build 30 new models by 2010.

Chairman Hu Maoyuan did not rule out exporting Roewe cars to Europe or elsewhere eventually.

"We are currently focused on reviving and improving the image of MG globally," he said. "But we will not rule out selling Roewe overseas in the future if there is a demand." - Reuters