Renault-Nissan deal for AvtoVAZ set to be signed Wednesday

MOSCOW Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:43am EST

MOSCOW Dec 11 (Reuters) - Renault and Japanese partner Nissan are set to sign a multi-million deal expected to give them effective c o ntrol of Lada maker OAO AvtoVAZ.

A press invite sent by Renault said the agreement would be signed on Wednesday, but the French carmaker declined to give any further details about the deal or comment on whether its terms remained the same as when it was first set out.

The companies had reached agreement in May on a deal they said would be signed off this year and under which Renault-Nissan will buy out investment bank Troika Dialog's stake in AvtoVAZ for $750 million.

The two will emerge with 67.13 percent of a joint venture with state-owned Russian Technologies which, in turn, controls the automaker through a 74.5 percent stake.

Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan chairman and CEO, and Sergey Chemezov, general director of Russian Technologies, will sign the agreement creating the joint venture at a central Moscow hotel, the French carmaker said.

It will also be signed by AvtoVAZ President Igor Komarov.

The formal signing comes as AvtoVAZ begins production of Nissan Almera cars at its plant in Togliatti on a jointly funded production line.

The new line, with a capacity for 380,000 cars a year, will produce five Lada, Nissan and Renault models.

International auto makers have been investing in Russia with the expectation of strong growth as the country's middle class expands.

The number of cars sold in Russia rose 40 percent last year to 2.5 million, reversing losses suffered after the credit crunch, with foreign brands produced in Russia jumping 70 percent to top 1 million.

Growth has slowed this year but remains in double digits and foreign car makers are looking to further ramp up production. (Reporting by Reuters trainee Sonia Elks; Editing by David Holmes)

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