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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Arms exporter may sell blocking stake in AvtoVAZ to Western firms

RIA Novosti

28/09/2007 16:30 (Recasts lead, adds details, background in paras 3-6)

MOSCOW, September 28 (RIA Novosti) - Rosoboronexport is set to sell its blocking stake in Russia's largest car producer AvtoVAZ to Western car manufacturers, the head of Russia's arms exporter said Friday.

"We intend to sell the blocking interest to our strategic partners. By this we are implying large car manufacturers. In Russia, apart from AvtoVAZ, there are no such manufacturers. This leaves only foreign companies - U.S. and European," Sergei Chemezov told journalists.

Earlier Chemezov said Rosoboronexport was holding talks with steel giant Severstal and Metalloinvest, Russia's leading iron ore producer, on selling them a non-blocking stake in AvtoVAZ. He said AvtoVAZ needs a partner able to provide it with high-quality steel.

Rosoboronexport assesses AvtoVAZ at about $4 billion. In 2006, the carmaker received 2.5 billion rubles ($100 million) in net profit, almost 80% more than in 2005. Its revenues in 2006 grew 15% on 2005 to reach 152.4 billion rubles ($6.1 billion). In 2007, the company expects to receive 166 billion rubles ($6.6 billion) in revenues.

Chemezov said that Rosoboronexport is ready to sell up to 10% of AvtoVAZ stock to a Russian metals company. "We are ready to sell 5-10% in order for them to be able to join the AvtoVAZ board," he said.

Chemezov also said all Russian car manufacturers could unite into one concern, but prior to that, in his opinion, they should regulate their production process and establish order within the industry as a whole.

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