June 4, 2007 / 1:10 PM / 13 years ago

Suzuki, Itochu plan Russian auto plant - source

MOSCOW, June 4 (Reuters) - Japanese carmaker Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T) and trading house Itochu Corp (8001.T) are expected to sign a memorandum on a joint auto plant in St Petersburg with Russia’s Economy Ministry on June 8, an industry source said on Monday.

“They are planning to build a plant together. A deal will be signed during the St Petersburg Economic Forum,” the source said.

President Vladimir Putin has invited top international political and business leaders for the global forum in St Petersburg on June 8 to 10.

The source gave no other details. Economic Ministry officials were not available for immediate comment.

Demand for new cars in Russia has surged in the last few years and is expected hit 2.7 to 3.0 million units per year within the next three to four years.

Russia’s second biggest city St Petersburg has been fast emerging as an important car industry hub, with analysts and officials alike calling it “a Russian Detroit”, referring to the heart of the U.S. industry.

The Japanese joint venture would follow a number of other car firms who have launched assembly plants in Russia, mostly around St Petersburg.

((For a table of foreign car sales in Russia in April, please click on [nL22658817]))

((Reporting by Denis Pinchuk, writing by Tom Miles, editing by David Holmes; tom.miles@reuters.com; Reuters messaging: tom.miles.reuters.com@reuters.net; Phone: +7 495 775 1242)) Keywords: SUZUKI ITOCHU/RUSSIA

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