UPDATE 1-Renault-Nissan finalises Russian auto deal

PARIS/MOSCOW Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:21am EST

PARIS/MOSCOW Dec 12 (Reuters) - French-Japanese auto partnership Renault-Nissan on Wednesday finalised a long-awaited deal to expand in the Russian market, investing $742 million in a joint venture which will control Lada-maker AvtoVAZ.

Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, in Moscow to sign the agreement, said the deal will accelerate the company's "Russian market offensive".

The joint venture with Moscow state entity Russian Technologies ups the ante for Renault-Nissan which has already made a four-year-old bet on the Russian market. The deal is to complete by mid-2014, the companies said.

Under the deal, the Franco-Japanese alliance will invest 23 billion roubles ($742 million) to take control of AvtoVAZ via a 67.13 percent stake in the joint venture by mid-2014. The JV will then own 74.5 percent of AvtoVAZ.

Russian Technologies will hold 32.87 percent of the JV.

As part of the agreement, Renault-Nissan will have eight seats on an expanded board of 15 members, up from 12 earlier.

The investment comes as Russian car sales have shown a slowdown. Sales in November were flat for the first time in more than two years as Russians put off spending following a slowdown in the country's economy. (Reporting by Leila Abboud and Megan Davies; Editing by Christian Plumb and Hans-Juergen Peters)

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