Putin offers France Renault-Avtovaz share swap

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered France an increased share in Russia's biggest but struggling carmaker on Wednesday in return for a stake in the French automaker Renault.

"If there is a need, a desire to expand your stake then we are ready for this," the Interfax news agency quoted Putin as telling Christian Esteve, Renault chief for Russia.

"We are even ready to swap certain stakes with the government of France," Putin said during a technology conference near Moscow, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies reported

"We have discussed it very recently," Putin was quoted as saying. "That would be interesting, powerful cooperation."

At the same Putin noted that Russia would not insist on the swap. "That would be our partners' voluntary decision."

Renault currently has a 25-percent stake in Avtovaz, the ailing company that makes the famous Lada model.

The French government has a 15 percent stake in Renault.

The Kremlin has called on Russian companies to aggressively pursue economic interests abroad as Russia seeks to expand its global footprint.

The Russian government has on several occasions urged Renault to boost its stake but the French group has said it is not interested in such a step.

© 2010 AFP

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