Kamaz stake may be sold to Russian buyers rather than Daimler -Kommersant

(Reuters) – A 23.5 percent stake in Russian truckmaker Kamaz may be sold to Russian buyers rather than its partner Daimler because the German carmaker is not offering a high enough price, Kommersant newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Daimler, which owns 11 percent of Kamaz directly, has a partnership agreement that would allow it to increase its holding this year or next.

Sergei Chemezov, the head of Kamaz’s biggest shareholder, state conglomerate Rostec, told Reuters last year that negotiations aimed at giving Daimler a bigger stake had been suspended because of differences over price.

Potential new buyers include Russian lender VEB, state-backed private equity fund the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) or Rostec, Chemezov was quoted as saying in Russian media on Wednesday.

A Rostec spokesman confirmed that Chemezov said that VEB, the RDIF and Rostec may contend for the stake.

The stake is currently owned by investors led by Ruben Vardanyan, the former chief executive of investment bank Troika, now owned by Sberbank, Kommersant said.

“Although the negotiation process is not transparent, we believe that Chemezov’s statement was probably directed towards Daimler, in an attempt to accelerate negotiations between the German manufacturer and Vardanyan and his partners,” Metropol analsyst said.

One source familiar with the situation said that Daimler’s position on Kamaz has not changed and that talks with its partners are constructive and ongoing. Daimler has said in the past that it intends to raise its stake in the Russian firm.

Kamaz, VEB and the RDIF declined to comment. Vardanyan could not immediately be contacted.

Shares in Kamaz were little changed at 54.21 roubles on Wednesday.