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Opel deal shall facilitate Russian auto industry: PM
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10:03, June 02, 2009

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Russian bank Sberbank's acquisition of shares in Opel should help boost the development of Russia's automobile industry, said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin here on Monday.

"The Russian government has its own strategy to develop the automobile industry, and the deal we are talking about should be written into it," said Putin at a meeting with Sberbank's chairman German Gref, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko, and CEO of Canada's Magna International Siegfried Wolf.

Magna, the Canadian auto parts maker, has reached deal to take over General Motor's Opel unit in partnership with Sberbank early Saturday.

General Motor has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on Monday.

Putin stressed "the Russian government was not directly involved (in the transaction)," but rather "welcome Sberbank's involvement," the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia has been strengthening cooperation with Europe in recent years, said Putin.

"The difficult times of economic crisis still create the conditions for diversifying our cooperation with leading European countries," said the prime minister.

Putin also hoped that Magna, which was widely recognized in Russia, would expand its business in the country.

The Canadian company has over 70,000 employees in 326 plants in25 countries and supplies components and systems to many of the world's leading auto makers.

"The main thing is that the plan to emerge from crisis proposed by such an authoritative company as Magna was judged to be the best both for investors and, above all, for the people who work atOpel plants in Germany and other countries," Putin said.

Russian car market has been expanding fast before the economic crisis hit in late 2008.


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