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Business news, 04.09.2006 13:30

Inchcape buys stake in Russian car dealership

inchcape Car dealership group Inchcape has expanded further into the rapidly growing Russian market with the purchase of a majority stake in a St Petersburg-based business.

Inchcape said it was buying a 75.1pc holding in the Axel Car Toyota and Lexus retail and service business in the Russian city. The business is part of the Olimp Group, a leading dealer group in St Petersburg that represents a number of brands including Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler and Dodge. Inchcape said it would pay up to 38m for its stake.

Andre Lacroix, chief executive of Inchcape, said: "This acquisition provides an immediate entry into Russia with a successful and established business in the key growth market of St Petersburg. Together with the previously announced joint venture with Independence in Moscow we now have two strong anchor points in Russia and are extremely well placed to build a profitable scale business."

Russia's car market is the largest in central and eastern Europe and is growing rapidly, Inchcape said. Sales of foreign brands in Russia have increased 55pc year-on-year in the first six months of this year to 400,000 units, it said.

St Petersburg is the second largest car market in Russia. Foreign brand registrations there in the first half of this year were 36,000, or 9pc of all foreign brand sales in Russia in the period.

Inchcape said that a new Russian company would be set up to buy the goodwill and assets of Axel Car's Toyota/Lexus business, which will be 75.1pc owned by Inchcape with the rest held by Axel Car shareholders. Completion of the deal is subject to regulatory approval.

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