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SEOUL – Hyundai and Chinese technology firm Tencent Holdings have signed a preliminary deal to develop software for driverless vehicles, according to South Korea's Maeil Business Newspaper. Both companies plan to conduct joint research and development on safety and security systems for self-driving cars, which Hyundai seeks to roll out commercially by 2030, the report, which cited unnamed industry sources, said.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of a business forum held in Seoul on Thursday by the South Korean government and China's Guangdong province, it said.

Hyundai and Tencent did not offer any immediate comments on the report.

The two companies are also exploring ways to utilize Tencent's popular WeChat messaging app in developing China-targeted car models, the newspaper said.

Hyundai, the world's fifth-largest automaker together with affiliate Kia Motors, has been fostering partnerships with self-driving tech and social media firms as it aims to introduce highly automated vehicles by 2020 and fully autonomous vehicles by 2030.

Hyundai Mobis, another affiliate of the car maker, clinched an agreement last month with Russia's largest internet search engine Yandex to jointly develop control systems for driverless vehicles.

Shenzhen-based and Hong Kong-listed Tencent has also ventured into self-driving tech and had advertised to recruit engineers in Silicon Valley last year. (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL and Norihiko Shirouzu in BEIJING; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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