SEOUL-- Hankook Tire Manufacturing Co., the world's seventh-largest tiremaker by sales, said Wednesday it has signed a deal with China's state oil firm to sell its truck and bus tires.

In August, Hankook Tire began to produce truck and bus radial tires (TBRs) at one of its three plants in China to deliver them to gas stations run by China Petrochemical Corp., known as Sinopec Group, in seven out of the country's 32 provinces, a company spokesman said over the phone.

The tiremaker is in talks with Sinopec to deliver its TBR products to Sinopec's gas stations in eight further provinces, he said, without giving the value of the contract. Sinopec runs 31,000 gas stations across China.

Hankook Tire became the second multinational company to supply TBRs to Sinopec's gas pumps after Michelin, the company said.

The company expects the deal with Sinopec to pave the way for additional tire supply contracts in China.

In the January-October period, the tiremaker's net profit plunged 21 percent on-year to 532.20 billion won (US$487 million) from 669.43 billion won due to higher raw materials costs. Operating profit declined 25 percent to 650.95 billion won, although sales increased 2.4 percent on-year to 5.131 trillion won.

This year, Hankook Tire aims to produce a total of 104 million tires at its eight plants -- two in South Korea, three in China, one in Hungary, one in Indonesia and another in the United States. This compares to 99 million units produced and sold last year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency