Sollers Ends Negotiations with Fiat Group for Joint Venture in Russia, Then Signs Deal with Ford

Italian automaker Fiat SpA and Russia's Sollers OJSC, backed out of a potential partnership today following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in February 2010 for the launch of a Russian joint-venture to produce passenger cars and SUVs.

Fiat, which controls US automaker Chrysler, and Sollers did not give any explanation for the breakup of negotiations, with both companies simply stating that they intend to continue expanding their existing operations and activities in the region. The 2.4 billion-euro deal signed last year was aimed at producing as many as 500,000 cars annually by 2016 and would have been supported by a 1.2 billion- euro loan backed by the Russian government.

Literally only minutes after the joint statement by Fiat and Sollers, Ford Motor Company came out with a press release announcing that is has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sollers, under which the two parties intend to launch a new 50:50-owned joint venture called Ford Sollers for the production and distribution of Ford vehicles in Russia.

Under the new proposed joint venture with Ford, Sollers, which is the second largest producer of passenger and light commercial vehicles in Russia, local plants in Vsevolozhsk (St. Petersburg region) and in the Republic of Tatarstan, will manufacture a range of Ford passenger cars and light commercial vehicles at local production facilities.

“We are delighted to be taking this next step for Ford in Russia with our proposed partner, Sollers,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. “This is a great opportunity, and will provide Ford customers in Russia with more products and better service.

“We are inspired by the opportunity to work with Ford,” said Vadim Shvetsov, general director of Sollers. “We are confident that our mutual efforts on the development of manufacturing facilities, new product launches and localization of parts content will ensure success for our strategy, and a leading position for the future joint venture company on the Russian market.”

Ford, which has been producing cars in Russia since 2002, did not disclose the financial terms of the deal with Sollers.

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