(Adds detail, Renault CFO comments, background)
PARIS/MOSCOW Feb 14 Automakers Renault
and Nissan said on Thursday they would create
a joint venture with Italian bank UniCredit to sell
loans to car buyers in Russia.
The Franco-Japanese alliance will have a 60 percent stake in
the venture, while UniCredit will hold 40 percent, the companies
said in a joint statement.
The venture "is aimed at further strengthening the
alliance's competitive positioning in the Russian car market
which is forecast to continue to grow rapidly over the next
decade," the companies said.
Although Russia's car market growth has been slowing, it is
still expected to overtake Germany as Europe's biggest some time
this decade, supported by a growing middle class and booming
PricewaterhouseCoopers expects Russian car sales to increase
by 5 percent in 2013, in stark contrast to recession-bound
Europe where sales are falling.
Last year, more than 2.9 million new cars were sold in
Russia, of which Renault-Nissan sold 352,808 units, giving it a
12 percent market share and making the country an important
source of growth.
UniCredit, a relatively small player in Russia, said the
venture, which is expected to begin operations by the end of
2013, should help it grow its retail banking operations in the
Renault Chief Financial Officer Dominique Thormann told
Reuters that three banks had been shortlisted as possible
partners in the venture and UniCredit had won.
Renault's financing arm RCI Banque has a similar arrangement
with Santander in Brazil and also serves Nissan, he
(Reporting by Leila Abboud and Laurence Frost in Paris and
Maria Kiselyova in Moscow; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)