BMW's finance chief sees risks to group's Russia business

Friedrich Eichiner: "We see risks in currency. The ruble has weakened.''
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FRANKFURT -- BMW's Chief Financial Officer, Friedrich Eichiner, said any worsening of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia would jeopardize the company's outlook.

Russia accounted for 2 percent of BMW's group sales of 1.96 million vehicles in 2013, but it was among the automaker's fastest-growing markets.

The company's Russian sales, including deliveries by the Mini brand, rose 12 percent last year to 44,871 vehicles, counter to a 6 percent drop in the country's auto market, according to the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses.

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 the ruble 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.

Any intensification of the conflict would force BMW to revise its plan for the former Soviet region, he said, and "of course we've got obligations with our business partners in Russia."

Eichiner, who was speaking at BMW's 2013 results conference on Wednesday, said the group was "closely monitoring the situation."

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

Last year, Russian sales fell to 2.78 million units, bringing to an end three years of double-digit growth in the market and delaying the country's move to succeed Germany as Europe's No. 1 market.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report

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