June 16, 2011 / 12:26 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Renault-Nissan talks on AvtoVAZ to take months-source

* Final deal to take a few more months-source

* AvtoVAZ stake deal will not be in Nissan mid-term plan

* Nissan shares mirror fall in other Japan auto stocks (Adds background)

TOKYO, June 16 (Reuters) - Negotiations over the Renault-Nissan alliance’s plan to take a majority stake in top Russian automaker AvtoVAZ are likely to take a few more months, a source familiar with the discussions said.

The comment came after Japan’s Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday that Nissan Motor Co was in the final stages of discussions to take a stake of roughly 25 percent in AvtoVAZ for up to $1 billion. Partner Renault SA already owns 25 percent of AvtoVAZ, for which it paid $1 billion in 2008, while state-owned Russian Technologies holds another 25 percent.

The source, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are not public, denied a final deal was close. Nissan spokesman Simon Sproule declined to comment, saying the report was based on speculation.

Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn has flagged the alliance’s plan to take a combined stake of at least 50 percent in the maker of Lada cars, with Nissan due to purchase more than half of the additional share.

Speculation over the three-way deal has swirled since last year as the Russian government aims to attract the world’s major car makers to become bigger players in the country to help modernise the industry. Global automakers, for their part, see Russia as a major growth market where annual sales are expected to double to 4 million vehicles over the next few years.

Renault-Nissan have the green light from Moscow to raise their ownership in AvtoVAZ via deals with Russian Technologies and Russian brokerage Troika Dialog, which manages 25 percent of AvtoVAZ. Troika CEO Ruben Vardanyan told Reuters in April the brokerage could sell some shares of AvtoVAZ on the open market.

In early trade in Tokyo, shares in Nissan were down 0.9 percent at 803 yen, mirroring a fall in other Japanese auto stocks.

Emerging car markets such as Russia, China, India and Brazil are central to automakers’ expansion as the developed markets of Western Europe and Japan reach saturation.

Including Lada sales of 570,000 vehicles last year, the greater Renault-Nissan alliance ranked third in global sales in 2010 with 7,276,398 vehicles, behind Toyota Motor Corp and General Motors Co and ahead of Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE).

Nissan, Japan’s No.2 automaker, is set to announce a new mid-term growth plan along with its financial forecasts in the last week of June. A finalised deal to purchase part of AvtoVAZ is unlikely to be included in the plan given the timeline of the talks.

Renault and Nissan have already agreed to build their own models at AvtoVAZ’s sprawling plant in the one-industry Russian town of Togliatti as part of their deal with the government.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Joseph Radford

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