Source Pravda.Ru

Renault To Increase Holding in Russia's Troubled AvtoVAZ

Renault may agree to increase its holding in troubled Russian carmaker AvtoVAZ, in return for Moscow taking a stake in the French company, Kommersant business daily reported on Friday.

AvtoVAZ shareholders -- Russia's state-controlled investment group Russian Technologies, Moscow bank Troika Dialog and 25 percent stakeholder Renault are expected to sign an AvtoVAZ rescue plan at a Franco-Russian government meeting in Rambouillet, just outside Paris, on Friday.

On Wednesday, Russian Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to discuss the main trade and economic themes which will feature on the talks agenda, Putin's press service said. AvtoVAZ, maker of Lada cars, was one of the topics, Reuters informs.

Moscow wants to buy a French-built helicopter carrier, a move that would mark an unprecedented transfer of naval technology from a NATO power. French officials confirmed the sale may come up at a working dinner Thursday.

Meanwhile, the official agenda of Friday's meeting of ministers reflects Putin's goal of finding more European partners to buy into two pipelines to hook up Western power stations to Russian gas fields.

Paris has said it is willing to help in both of these domains, sparking concern among its European Union partners in Central and Eastern Europe, who worry that Moscow's power and confidence are once more on the rise.

The arrival in St Petersburg this week of the Mistral, a French naval command vessel of the class that Putin hopes to buy, has increased fears that Russia is seeking means to project power beyond its borders.

The Mistral is a 21,000-tonne, 200-metre (650-foot) amphibious assault ship that can carry heavy-lift helicopters, landing craft, tanks and up to 900 commandos. It is the second largest vessel in the French fleet, AFP informs.