26 Apr 2024 18:42

Sollers sells its share in Aurus

MOSCOW. April 26 (Interfax) - Russian automobile manufacturing group Sollers has exited the ownership structure of automaker Aurus (Aurus LLC, Yelabuga), selling its 0.5% stake to Hit Motors Rus.

The Unified State Register of Legal Entities reflected the changes as of April 24. The main owner of Aurus LLC is still FSUE NAMI, subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (63.5%), while 36% belongs to the Arab Tawazun fund, which entered the company's capital in 2019, receiving the share in exchange for a 110-million euro investment, the register says.

The deal to sell the stake in Aurus LLC to Hit Motors Rus LLC was confirmed to Interfax by the Sollers press service. The company did not disclose details. "We remain an industrial partner of the project and continue to provide welding and painting services for Aurus bodies," Sollers said.

Hit Motors Rus LLC was registered in Moscow in July 2022. The owner of 99% of its shares is the Kazakh TOO "High End Assembly Technologies Motors," while the other 1% belongs to Hans Peter Moser, general director of Moscow's Moskvich automobile plant (the former Renault production site), who several years earlier headed the project to create the Kamaz family of K5 trucks. Hit Motors Rus directly owned 51% of the shares of the manufacturer of Kamaz LCVs Compass (Trucks Vostok Rus LLC, the former Kamaz JV with Daimler) as of the end of 2023. In addition, at the end of the year before last, it owned a 50% stake in Volga Industrial Engines LLC (a joint venture with the Chinese Weichai).

The press service of Kamaz PJSC did not comment on the deal regarding the 0.5% stake in the Aurus project, saying that the group is not a member of Hit Motors Rus LLC. FSUE NAMI, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, also would not comment on the deal.

The Aurus project began over ten years ago, when it was known as "Cortege." Then, the government instructed the company to develop a family of vehicles on a single modular platform for transporting top state officials. To implement and scale the project, Aurus LLC was created at the end of 2017, being initially owned by NAMI (75%) and Sollers (25%), which then subsequently reduced their shares in favor of the Arab Tawazun fund. In the project's early years, small batches of Aurus cars were assembled only at NAMI facilities. The serial production of Aurus Senat sedans in Yelabuga started in May 2021. The start of production of Aurus Komendant SUVs was announced just over one year later.

Vedomosti said at the end of October 2023 that Gazprom could become a participant in the Aurus project, but according to open data, this has not yet happened. One of the sources stated that the group could receive up to 40% of the luxury car manufacturer's shares from NAMI.

Kommersant reported in February 2024 that Aurus could establish the assembly of luxury cars at the facilities of the former St. Petersburg Toyota plant, which NAMI owns through Shushary-Avto LLC. Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov later confirmed these plans to journalists. He said that Aurus wants to establish production in St. Petersburg "together with foreign industry partners. At the end of the year, the first industrially assembled samples will be ready. There will be a fairly wide range. At least four in total," Manturov said.

The Shushary-Avto company was headed up in January of this year by General Director of Aurus LLC Andrey Pankov (a former senior manager at Renault in Russia). He was the general director of the North Star Automobile Plant JSC registered in St. Petersburg from the end of 2023 to the beginning of March 2024, the owner of 100% of which is Irina Rostova, beneficiary and now the general director of the company. Kommersant sources suggested that Kamaz, already acting as a technological partner of Moskvich, could also help with the organization of Aurus production in St. Petersburg. However, an interlocutor close to Kamaz did not confirm this to Kommersant.