Management at Russian auto-maker AvtoVAZ are still hopeful that General Motors will provide financial support to launch the Niva 2123 model, say Russian media sources (15/11/00). Citing Valeriy Domansky, head of construction at the factory, local media says that GM is set to approve a financing scheme for the joint venture by the end of next month.

Director of International Communications at GM, John Miller, is reported
to have only confirmed that discussions are continuing. Mr Miller would not reveal
when the project would next be reviewed by the board.

Vladimir Kadannikov, Chairman of the AvtoVAZ board, says that the company will
continue with its plans to manufacture the Niva even without GM, although the
launch will be postponed from 2001 to 2003.
AvtoVAZ plans to manufacture 90,000 to 120,000 Niva 2123 models per year – dependent
on demand – with the off-road vehicle expected to sell for USD 10,000 to USD 12,000.

Russian media also reports rumours that EBRD is set to participate in the project,
via the acquisition of a 14 per cent stake – for USD 50m – in the JV alongside
the provision of USD 170m credit.

According to the report, if EBRD were to participate, the remaining 86 per cent
would be divided between both AvtoVAZ and GM.

AvtoVAZ has refused to comment on EBRD`s involvement, with the Russian auto-manufacturer
saying that it is not party to GMs` discussions with the bank.