Russia, Belarus to combine truck making assets

Belarus to transfer up to 49 pct of MAZ to new JV * KAMAZ, MAZ to combine sales and technology (Adds details, background)

MINSK Feb 16 (Reuters) - Belarus will create a joint holding company with Russia that will own stakes in truck makers KAMAZ (KMAZ.MM) and MAZ rather than sell MAZ to KAMAZ, Belarus' First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said on Wednesday.

"This is not a sale of plants," he told a government meeting. "This is transferring a certain stake into a joint holding company ... We will not give up more than 49 percent of MAZ yet."

The Belarussian government said this month it valued MAZ at $2.5 billion, a price tag that analysts said made a deal with KAMAZ unlikely. [ID:nLD639589]

But Semashko said Belarus liked the plan, under which the two truck makers would combine their sales networks and exchange technologies.

"I think this is good, it will allow us to resist external competition."

However, such a deal would mean Belarus gets no cash payments which could help it bridge the current account gap and plug the budget deficit.

The IMF this month urged Belarus to take quick steps to reduce the current account deficit from last year's estimated 16 percent of gross domestic product and analysts say privatisation is one of the ways to improve the balance. (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Hans Peters)


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