BMW finance chief sees risks to its Russian business

FRANKFURT Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:36am EDT

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BMW's (BMWG.DE) finance chief said any worsening of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, one of its fastest growing markets, would jeopardize the car maker's outlook, while its CEO urged for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

On Tuesday a Ukrainian serviceman was killed in Crimea when a base still held by Kiev came under attack in the main town of Simferopol, the first death on the peninsula from a military clash since Russia seized control three weeks ago.

Although Russia accounted for around 2 percent of BMW's group sales of 1.96 million vehicles in 2013 it was among its fastest growing markets, rising 11.8 percent to a record 44,871 vehicles.

BMW's Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said the company was aware of potential risks from an escalation of the conflict.

"There are risks in the Russian business. We see risks in currency, the rouble has weakened. So long as the crisis does not escalate then we stick to our guidance. If it does, all our statements about our outlook that we made today need to be questioned," Eichiner said.

Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said "a diplomatic solution has to be found" in response to a question about the crisis between Russia and the Ukraine.

BMW's board member for sales and marketing Ian Robertson said in the longer term he sees potential in the Russian market.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor, editing by Louise Heavens)

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