The family that owns German supplier Schaeffler hopes to sell a stake in the company to reduce heavy debts that financed its acquisition of Continental.
Schaeffler has debts of more than 10 billion euros after launching a leveraged takeover bid for Continental, which is three times its size.
German media reports said Schaeffler is seeking 4 billion euros from the German government to help to finance its debt.
Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler and her son Georg Schaeffler said in a statement on Sunday that they needed emergency support from the German government until they find an investor. They said they would be willing to pay fees and interest on any state aid they might receive.
The Schaefflers said their company is at its core healthy, but potential investors are so far scared away by the current recession as well as by an ongoing public debate in Germany about whether Schaeffler should be rescued by taxpayers.
"We expect to succeed in the search for investors at the latest after a recovery in the economy," the Schaefflers said.
They denied that they had "gambled" when launching last summer's 12 billion euro leveraged takeover bid for Continental.
Schaeffler controls 90 percent of Continental's shares. The supplier is currently preparing to present a concept to the state and federal governments in Germany in the hopes of receiving some sort of bridging support.
The Schaeffler family also pledged to fight a sale of assets as they expand their alliance with Continental, but the statement seemed to leave the door open for whatever might be considered a prudent divestment, like the disposal of Continental's tire and non-tire rubber business.
"We will do everything in our power to prevent a senseless break-up driven by short-term interests," the two owners said.
Schaeffler has repeatedly denied media reports it planned to sell off Continental's tire business to finance the takeover, but Continental's supervisory board last month approved the legal carve out of an independent Rubber Group.