General Motors' tentative deal with Russia's AutoVAZ is a major coup. The Russian maker of Ladas runs the biggest car manufacturing complex in the world. It is old and inefficient, but it can make a million cars a year.
AutoVAZ is a captive market for Opel technology, cars and components. GM wants to build 250,000 cars a year at AutoVAZ's Togliatti plant and sell them through Lada's vast Russian distribution network.
AutoVAZ needs western help and GM may be able to provide it without a risky, complicated and potentially spirit-breaking equity link.
GM has quietly eased its way into a major opportunity.