Bloomberg reports from Moscow that OAO AvtoVAZ shares have soared for a second day, rising to a record level. The gains are attributed to a stronger than expected sales performance by the company in 2001.

AvtoVAZ sales were reportedly up by 11% in 2001.

The report says that shares rose $2.90, or 13.7%, to $24.10, after rising $1.85, or 9.6% yesterday.

Last week the company accepted resignations of two key members of its board of directors yesterday, marking the first major departures of the company's 'old guard'. At an extraordinary board meeting at company headquarters in Tolyatti, Aleksei Nikolaev said he would step down as president-general director, while Nikolai Lyachenkov announced he would quit as first vice-president and first deputy general director.

Both executives, employed at AvtoVAZ since it started making Lada-brand cars in 1970, have been viewed increasingly as inadequate to the tasks of modernising the company.

The exits follow recent efforts by AvtoVAZ to remake its image into a market-oriented enterprise shedding Communist-era practices to focus on shareholder value.

The automaker still must prove its commitment to reform, but the traded value of its ordinary stock has soared from $0.09 in June 1999 to over $24 this month, and AvtoVAZ is increasingly confident about its prospects for attracting foreign investment and loans.