(Bloomberg) -- Siegfried Wolf, co-CEO of Magna International Inc., is quitting the company to join an affiliate of Russia's GAZ Group. Donald Walker will become sole CEO of Magna, Canada's largest auto parts supplier.
Wolf is taking an unspecified role at Basic Element and its machinery division OJSC Russian Machines, the parent company of GAZ. He also resigned from Magna's board, the company said.
Russian billionaire and GAZ owner Oleg Deripaska recently approached Magna for permission for Basic Element to make an offer to Wolf, said Frank Stronach, Magna's chairman.
Stonach said Magna now stands to further strengthen its relationship with Basic Element and continue to grow in the recovering Russian automotive market.
"Basic Element gains an experienced manager with extensive full vehicle assembly expertise who can immediately assist its automotive division in pursuing its modernization and growth strategy," Stronach added in a statement.
“Sigi has done a great job for Magna, particularly in building a strong European management team and strengthening our relationships with our European-based customers,” Walker said in the same statement.
Magna, based in Aurora, Ontario, joined with Russian lender OAO Sberbank last year in a failed bid to acquire General Motors Co.'s Opel unit. The partners said then that they would consider making Opel cars at GAZ's facilities in the central Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.
Wolf's actions at Magna included moves to expand in the electric-car market. In May he told journalists that Magna planned to invest as much as $600 million constructing new plants in the United States and the European Union to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.
Over the weekend, Stronach indicated that a change in management would be handled smoothly.
“All managers always were replaceable,” Stronach said in a radio interview on Sept. 11 with Austrian state radio station ORF. Should Wolf leave, “this wouldn't bother Magna, Magna would continue to function in the same way.”
Wolf said he looked forward to Basic Element and Magna working together to help Magna's expansion strategy in Russia.
Paul McVeigh contributed to this report