Russia Prime Minister Valdimir Putin was on hand for the signing of a joint venture agreement between Fiat and Russia’s Sollers to create the biggest car maker in Russia.
Fiat’s boss Sergio Marchionne signed the agreement at Sollers’ assembly plant in Tartastan, 1,000 kilometres east of Moscow.
Putin promised financial backing. He said: “This year, we’ll continue the programme of state aid to car production in general, but we’re also ready to give special support to this project, including with money from major Russian state-owned banks.”
Fiat and Sollers will borrow over two billion euros at subsidised rates for the joint venture.
The Italian company is looking to a growth market in Russia and the plant will eventually have the capacity to assemble half a million cars a year with the engines and gear boxes and some other components made in Russia.
The Russian partnership coincides with Fiat plans to close its Termini Imerese plant Sicily which has angered workers there.
They have have held protest and strikes and the closure, along with others, even brought an appeal from the Pope for businesses and government officials to “do everything possible to protect jobs.”