Lada Maker Appoints Ex-GM Manager to Run Russian Company

OAO AvtoVAZ appointed Bo Andersson, a former top purchasing manager at General Motors Co., as chief executive officer, the first non-Russian to lead the maker of Lada cars as it deepens ties with the Renault-Nissan alliance.

Andersson, 58, will take the post on Dec. 31 and succeed Igor Komarov, who is leaving the industry, Togliatti-based AvtoVAZ said today in a statement following a board meeting yesterday led by Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Andersson, a Swedish national who’s currently CEO of Russian truckmaker GAZ Group, will be the first foreign-born head of the country’s biggest automaker since its founding 47 years ago during the Soviet Union.

The new CEO’s mission will be to achieve a target set by Ghosn of a 40 percent combined market share in Russia for AvtoVAZ, Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. by 2016. Renault, France’s second-biggest carmaker, and Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan are in the process of acquiring indirect 74.5 percent control of AvtoVAZ under an agreement signed late last year that pledges the buyers to invest 23 billion rubles ($710 million).

Andersson left Detroit-based GM in 2009, when billionaire Oleg Deripaska recruited him to help restore earnings at GAZ. During his four-year tenure, Andersson reorganized the Soviet-era factory at GAZ’s headquarters in Nizhny Novgorod to make production more competitive, convincing GM, Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG to build vehicles on its assembly lines.

Russian Investments

“Our investments in Russia and specifically in AvtoVAZ will be a significant contributor to the overall global growth of the alliance,” Ghosn said in the statement. “Andersson is a talented and experienced automotive executive with a wealth of experience in key markets.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appointed Komarov deputy director general of the country’s Federal Space Agency on Oct. 24. Oleg Lobanov, who has been AvtoVAZ’s executive vice president in charge of finance and corporate development, will run the company on an interim basis until Andersson takes over.

Renault, which is based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, bought an initial 25 percent of AvtoVAZ stock in 2008. The French manufacturer and Nissan are acquiring their controlling stake in AvtoVAZ by taking 67 percent of a joint venture with state-owned defense and industrial holding company Russian Technologies Corp.

The French and Japanese partners created a component-procurement venture with AvtoVAZ in September. The business is modeled on the 12-year-old Renault-Nissan purchasing organization, which holds a 50 percent stake in the new Russian entity, with AvtoVAZ owning the other half. The three carmakers are planning joint annual production capacity in Russia of 1.7 million vehicles by 2016.

Global Alliance

Renault has been Nissan’s partner in sales and production since 1999 and currently owns a 43 percent stake in the Japanese manufacturer. Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.

Nine-month Russian deliveries by Renault, Nissan and AvtoVAZ fell 9 percent from a year earlier to 606,857 vehicles, according to figures compiled by the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses in Russia. Their combined market share narrowed to 29.6 percent from 30.2 percent.

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