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UPDATE 1-Tesla's Musk praises CureVac as among most innovative firms - source

(Adds details on CureVac, investor)

BERLIN, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk praised German vaccine developer CureVac as one the world’s most innovative firms in a conversation with German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

“Musk and Altmaier agreed that CureVac, which is working on a new vaccine approach and which collaborates with Tesla, counts among the most innovative companies in the world,” the source said, referring to a meeting on Wednesday.

Musk, who is Tesla Inc’s CEO, met with three German ministers and other senior politicians on Wednesday to discuss the progress of a collaboration between the carmaker and CureVac and a planned electric vehicle factory near Berlin.

The economy ministry declined to comment. Europe-based spokespeople for Tesla were not immediately available for comment.

Investor Dietmar Hopp, who owns short of 50% in CureVac, on Thursday dismissed as “pure fantasy” any speculation that Musk’s appreciation for the biotech company amounted to takeover interest, speaking to news website Merkur.de.

A CureVac spokesman said purchasing a stake in CureVac was not a topic of discussions during Musk’s visit of the company’s Tuebingen headquarters on Tuesday.

A Tesla subsidiary is helping to build mobile molecule printers to make the potential COVID-19 vaccine under development by CureVac.

Last November, the U.S. electric carmaker announced plans to build a electric vehicle factory in Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg that surrounds Berlin. (Reporting by Ludwig BurgerReporting by Christian Krämer; writing by Ludwig Burger and Thomas Seythal; editing by Sabine Wollrab and Mark Potter)

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