Daimler Considers Stake in KamAZ

MTThe German company says it will announce by year's end whether it will purchase 42 percent of the truck maker.
Daimler's truck unit will announce by year's end whether it plans to acquire a stake in truck maker KamAZ, Daimler said Wednesday.

Daimler filed for German anti-monopoly clearance on the possible transaction as part of its review process and hasn't yet committed to acquiring a stake, Silke Walters, a spokeswoman at the Stuttgart, Germany-based company, said in an interview.

"We are still analyzing the two options, and we will have a decision by the end of the year," Walters said.

In July, Daimler entered into talks with Troika Dialog, which wants to sell its 42 percent stake in KamAZ, the country's biggest truck maker. The German company is choosing between setting up its own truck factory in Russia and buying the KamAZ holding, valued at an estimated $2 billion.

KamAZ chairman Sergei Chemezov, however, said last month that Daimler was eyeing a smaller stake of 10 percent in the company, Interfax reported.

"Daimler was not satisfied with the price of $2 billion that we had been discussing. The crisis has hit them hard. Now Daimler wants a smaller stake," he said.

According to Daimler's web site, Russia has become Europe's largest truck market, with total sales of more than 154,000 trucks over 6 tons in 2007. Sales of new trucks in the country are expected to increase about 20 percent over the next two years. The sales growth is being driven by demand for heavy-duty trucks in particular, Daimler said.

Daimler Trucks sold 1,300 new vehicles in Russia last year, an increase of 58 percent from 2006. The division is expanding its Russian sales and service network, increasing the number of Mercedes-Benz service stations from 30 to 48 between 2008 and 2010.

(AP, Bloomberg, Reuters)