Russian Tycoon Forced To Sell Magna Stake

Oleg Deripaska, regarded as Russia's richest man, has been forced to sell a 20 percent stake in Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc. to creditors.

MOSCOW (AP) -- Oleg Deripaska, regarded as Russia's richest man, has been forced to sell a 20 percent stake in Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc. to creditors, the company said in a statement.

Russian Machines, which is part of Deripaska's enormous Basic Element holding, bought the stake last September in a $1.5 billion deal.

But in recent weeks, the Russian stock markets have suffered their biggest rout in a decade, dropping 25 percent in just three days in mid-September. That, combined with the global credit crunch, has put highly leveraged companies, some of which used shares as loan security, under intense pressure.

The names of the creditors were not disclosed. Basic Element declined comment.

Magna said it would continue to pursue joint opportunities with Deripaska's interests in Russia, which is expected to overtake Germany as Europe's largest car market next year.

"Our strategic alliance with Russian Machines has assisted us in accelerating our growth in the Russian market," said Siegfried Wolf, Magna's co-CEO. "We have a good working relationship with Oleg Deripaska and the Basic Element group. ... We believe that the Russian market still holds significant opportunities for us."

But investors took the news badly, sending U.S.-traded shares of Magna down $8.09, or 17 percent, to a new 52-week low of $37.50.

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