Russia's Avtovaz says CEO stepping down

MOSCOW Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:59pm EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The chief executive of Russia's largest carmaker Avtovaz (AVAZ.MM), Igor Komarov, is stepping down, the auto company said on Wednesday.

Komarov has run Avtovaz, which Franco-Japanese alliance Renault-Nissan (RENA.PA) (7201.T) plans to take control of by mid-2014, since 2009. Avtovaz makes the famous Lada cars.

Several sources close to Avtovaz said that Komarov was leaving to join a division of the country's space agency (Roskosmos), confirming an earlier story in Kommersant newspaper. Komarov declined comment.

Oleg Lobanov, the company's vice-president for finance, will be acting CEO until the board of directors appoints a new head. A source close to one of Avtovaz's shareholders said the new CEO would likely be a representative of the Renault-Nissan alliance.

Avtovaz reported earlier in October that it swung to a first-half net loss as the country's economic slowdown took a heavy toll on demand.

Russian car sales have fallen for six months in a row as the $2 trillion economy has faltered. The Association of European Businesses (AEB) lobby group recently cut its sales forecast for the full year to 2.8 million vehicles, a fall of 5 percent year on year.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, writing by; Megan Davies; editing by Alexei Anischuk and Mike Collett-White)