Top Russian car maker, AvtoVAZ (AVAZ.MM), may join state-run Sberbank (SBER03.MM) and Canada's Magna International Inc (MGa.TO) in a deal to run Opel and bring new technology to Russia.
Sberbank chief executive German Gref told reporters on Thursday that AvtoVAZ, which plans massive layoffs despite an unprecedented cash injection from the state, could be part of the landmark Opel deal, including producing car parts.
Cooperation is possible ... We are very interested to stabilise the situation on AvtoVAZ because it is our big client, Gref told reporters.
What we have been talking about in the (Opel) consortium is that we should create a special budget model for the Russian market. We can cooperate in car parts production.
Magna and Sberbank won a deal for control of Germany's Opel last week after months of negotiations that took a toll on Opel and its 50,000 workers.
The Kremlin has said Washington's green light for Russian investments in General Motors Co's [GM.UL] European arm showed President Barack Obama's willingness to improve business relations with Russia.
The Kremlin says the deal would bring new technology into Russia to help modernise its economy and cut its dependence on commodities sectors.
The Russian car market crashed 50 percent this year after being one of the world's fastest growing and local behemoths AvtoVAZ and GAZ (GAZA.RTS), which produce clunky models such as the Lada, need urgent reform.
GAZ, part of indebted entrepreneur Oleg Deripaska's Basel conglomerate, has already said it wants to be an industrial partner in the Magna/Sberbank deal on Opel.
But AvtoVAZ, which is 25 percent controlled by French car maker Renault SA (RENA.PA), has never been mentioned as seeking a role in the Opel deal.
AvtoVAZ plans to cut 5,000 jobs and its workers have threatened mass protests, a rare event in Russia, which has enjoyed a decade of stability during the economic boom under former president and current prime minister Vladimir Putin.
Gref, a former economy minister, has accumulated huge assets ranging from oil companies to pig farms, as collateral after falling revenues made it impossible for many Russian companies to redeem debts. He is widely perceived by investors as a top state banker with a mandate to restructure outdated Russian industries.
On Thursday, he also said Opel planned to assemble low- priced cars in Russia, starting with the Astra models, at the General Motors plant in the northern Russian city of St Petersburg.
Magna's top managers will visit Russia next week to discuss where to build other facilities, he said, adding that Opel would invest 170 million euros in Russia at the first stage and that could be increased to 600 million euros in the future. (Reporting by Dmitry Sergeyev; writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Andre Grenon)