AvtoVAZ, Russia's largest car maker, is replacing its boss as the state pursues grand plans for the auto sector, including a key role in the acquisition of Opel from General Motors Co.
AvtoVAZ, in which French automaker Renault SA owns a quarter stake, said in a statement on Tuesday that Boris Alyoshin was stepping down as CEO of the company that makes the iconic Lada. It did not name his replacement.
Igor Komarov, an adviser to Sergei Chemezov, who is the head of state industrial holding Russian Technologies and an ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, will take over, Russia's Vedomosti business daily reported.
A source close to AvtoVAZ also told Reuters that Komarov is the likely successor.
Russian Technologies, like Renault, controls a 25 percent stake in AvtoVAZ and is planning to create a new automotive giant to manage its stake in the company. Analysts have said that any Russian-controlled stake in Opel could also be folded into it.
They have said the large Opel stake that state-controlled lender Sberbank would get if Magna International Inc. acquires the European car maker would be quickly passed on to Russian Technologies. Sberbank is the financier behind Magna's Opel bid.
Creating an auto giant
Another source close to AvtoVAZ said on Friday that the new state automotive holding could also include the 38 percent stake held by Russian Technologies in the country's largest truck maker, Kamaz .
Germany's Daimler AG also owns a stake in Kamaz.
Daimler and Renault declined to comment on the recent developments with their Russian assets and it was not immediately clear if the European automotive giants had approved any of the proposed changes.
AvtoVAZ and Kamaz shares spiked on Monday on speculation the automakers were in line for additional support from the state if the new holding were to materialize.
The current head of Kamaz, Sergei Kogogin, would take the helm at Russian Technologies' new automotive unit, Igor Zavyalov, the deputy head of the industrial conglomerate, said in an interview with Vesti television on Tuesday.
The state plans for the domestic car industry, which is struggling to compete with foreign carmakers' newer technology, are under scrutiny because of Russia's role in a Magna-led bid for Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall.
AvtoVAZ announced on August 12 that it had spent nearly all of its 33 billon ruble ($1 billion) emergency loans from the state, mainly to settle debts with suppliers.
It has also been under intense government pressure in recent months not to lay off workers as senior officials have warned that social unrest could radiate from the automotive sector, as AvtoVAZ and other companies have had to shorten work weeks and cut wages.
AvtoVAZ has been hit hard by the collapse of the country's car market. Its Russian new-car sales fell 43.9 percent to 212,296 through July.