Under the deal van maker LDV will become an important part of the group's development plans for international expansion. GAZ is Russia's second-largest automotive company and the seventh-largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles worldwide. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Martin Leach, former president and chief operating officer of Ford Europe and chief executive of Maserati SpA, has been appointed chairman of LDV with immediate effect.
Steve Young, former head of the automotive practive of management consultants AT Kearney, has been appointed chief executive.
An affiliate of Sun European Partners acquired the trade and assets of LDV in December 2005 when it led a major refinancing package to rescue the business.
Philip Dougall, managing director of Sun European Partners, said: ‘LDV was acquired in December 2005 when the business was only days away from becoming another high-profile collapse for the long-suffering UK automotive industry. Nonetheless, we strongly believed that its inherent value, particularly in the high-quality Maxus range of vehicles, could be unlocked through a rapid and fundamental overhaul of operations, working closely with a skilled and committed workforce.
‘We are delighted that, through a combination of investment capital and the considerable operating experience of the Sun European team, we have been able to overcome many of the extremely difficult challenges that impacted the old LDV. Since the acquisition, LDV has enjoyed a 100% increase in the year-to-date sales of Maxus, has a strong order book underpinned by the Royal Mail, and has been able to introduce the new minibus product well ahead of schedule. These changes have created an operating platform that is attractive to a major automotive manufacturer such as GAZ and we are delighted to have found such a strong and committed buyer for the business.’