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GERMANY/US [updated 14:05BST]: Russian oligarch denies building up stake in GM

By just-auto.com editorial team | 20 October 2006

A German business magazine yesterday said that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has been buying shares in GM, with the aim of acquiring a 10% stake in the company.

Deripaska's investment company, Basic Element, controls Russian vehicle manufacturer, GAZ, which recently acquired the UK's LDV.

However, according to Reuters, Basic Element has denied the story. "The information contained in Manager Magazine relating to Deripaska owning shares in General Motors is untrue," a Basic Element spokesperson told the news agency.

Manager Magazin reported in its 20 October issue that Deripaska has already acquired some shares. The article said that Deripaska appears to be seeking a cooperation with GM, which, among other things, would help GAZ gain access to Asian markets.

The German magazine noted that Deripaska plays a central role in Russian industrial policy and just a few days ago created the larges aluminium company in the world by merging two Russian aluminium firms, Rusal and Sual.

A personal friend of Alexander Putin, Deripaska is charged with increasing the international competitiveness of the Russian automotive industry.

A General Motors Europe spokesman on Friday said he could not comment as it was an investor relations issue handled in Detroit.

From there a GM spokeswoman said: "We do not speak on behalf of our shareholders or speculate on the actions of potential investors."