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Swedish CEO of Russian carmaker Avtovaz to step down

The head of Russia's biggest carmaker, Avtovaz, is to step down later this year. CEO Bo Andersson of Sweden oversaw some cost-cutting reforms, but couldn't prevent the firm from slipping into huge net losses.

Avtovaz said Monday its Swedish chief, Bo Andersson, was to step down after major losses amid a full-blown recession in the nation's auto industry.

Andersson had come out of early retirement in 2013 to become the first non-Russian to lead Avtovaz. The General Motors veteran cut the carmaker's workforce and other fixed costs and made headway in cleaning up a supplier network once rife with corruption and inefficiency.

Despite the reform drive, Avtovaz suffered net losses amounting to $928 million (847 million euros) last year, nearly triple the 2014 bottom-line figure.

The company, which is majority-owned by Renault-Nissan, still employs 44,000 people, with its owners now engaged in hammering out the details of a bailout for the beleaguered maker of the Lada brand.

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'A tough job'

Despite foreign involvement and a history of problems, Avtovaz has long been regarded by the Kremlin as a symbol of Russian corporate pride.

Bo Andersson looked likely to be replaced before his contract expiry date in December.

Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said the Swede's replacement should not be seen as a reflection of the Avtovaz' financial performance.

"It's a tough job and nobody wants to do it forever," he said. "There's a certain point in time when your mission is finished and someone has to take over."

hg/uhe (AFP, Reuters)

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