Yesterday, The Nikkei was all worked up about a takeover of Russia’s largest automaker AvtoVaz by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The Nikkei became so excited that it forgot simple logic. More on that here. The Nikkei had it on not so good authority that Nissan would soon buy 25 percent of the Russians, and together with Renault’s 25 percent and change, Japan and France would finally achieve what had been tried before: Rule Russia. We had our doubts.
Do you hear the big hissing sound? That’s the lukewarm air coming out of the story. Today, Financial Times Germany, along with what looks like all of the German press, writes that Nissan plans to buy a whopping 4 percent of AvtoVaz. Yes, four. Even that is not cast in stone. Sergey Chemezov, head of the sprawling Russian government holding Rostechnologii, told the Russian news service Interfax that Nissan intends to buy four percent of AvtoVaz from Rostechnologii. Rostechnologii will reduce its holdings down to the blocking minority of 25 percent. Depending on the by-laws of a corporation, a blocking minority has veto power.
Why the fascination of the Germans with Chemezov? He’s a colorful man. He worked as an undercover agent in Dresden, East Germany, while Vladimir Putin was the KGB rezident there. His official resume glosses over this tidbit. Was Chemezov telling theb truth? Did Interfax write it as it was said? We’ll never know.
There are other parties in Russia that hold AvtoVaz stock. They may or may not be interested in selling. But currently, that’s all there is to the story.