Exclusive: Top Russian carmaker Avtovaz planning to delist from Moscow Exchange

By Gleb Stolyarov and Laurence Frost
| MOSCOW/PARIS

MOSCOW/PARIS Russia’s largest carmaker Avtovaz (AVAZ.MM) is planning to delist from the Moscow Exchange after a secondary share offering later this year, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The move would allow Avtovaz, majority-owned by French car giant Renault (RENA.PA) and its alliance partner Nissan (7201.T), to take out costs relating to supporting a listing and reporting financial results after being hit by the collapse of Russia’s once-booming auto industry, where annual vehicle sales have more than halved since 2012.

Both sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential matters, said the purchase of a 24.1 percent stake in Avtovaz by Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital late last year was part of the delisting plan.

The sources, one close to Avtovaz’s management and another person briefed by senior shareholders, declined to give further details on the bank’s involvement, explain why it was needed, or say why Avtovaz management wanted to delist.

The person briefed by shareholders said the delisting had been planned since at least late 2016.

Avtovaz, Rencap and Rostec declined to comment.

A Renault spokeswoman said: “This is not on the agenda. Our focus for now is the ongoing capital restructuring of Avtovaz.” The company declined further comment.

“They have no aim of being a public company. The stock market is not a means of raising capital for them at this stage,” said VTB analyst Vladimir Bespalov, adding that Avtovaz’s free float was around 10 percent of its shares.

“Supporting a listing also requires certain additional costs and resources, including management ones … if the current situation allows for a squeeze out and delisting, why wait until later?”

Rencap’s stake purchase in December was part of a larger recapitalization plan for loss-making Avtovaz, which has…

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