MOSCOW (AP) -- Daimler AG, the world's largest truck maker, will buy a 10 percent stake in Russian truck maker OAO Kamaz in a $300 million deal signed Friday, the head of the German company's truck division and other officials involved said.
The purchase is part of a strategic cooperation agreement that brings together Daimler, Kamaz and two of the truck company's shareholders, state-owned conglomerate Russian Technologies and Moscow-based investment bank Troika Dialog.
"Daimler now has 10 percent of Kamaz," Daimler truck business head Andreas Renschler said after the signing ceremony in Moscow.
The deal comes as the international auto industry faces plunging demand amid the global economic downturn.
Daimler has been eager to enter the Russian truck market, estimating earlier this year it could grow 20 percent a year over the next two years.
"We don't know how long this crisis will last, but when the global economy gets back on track, the world will need new trucks," Renschler said.
The 10 percent stake changing hands under the deal was owned by Troika Dialog. Daimler will pay $250 million this month and $50 million in 2012 if the partnership is successful, Troika Dialog chief Ruben Vardanyan said. Daimler will also receive one seat on the board.
The deal comes just hours after the U.S. Congress turned down a $14 billion bailout for the U.S. car industry, putting the "Big Three" automakers' future at risk. General Motors and Chrysler are in the most immediate danger while Ford Motor Co. has said it could face collateral damage if one of its domestic rivals fell.
Russia -- which has enjoyed an economic boom in recent years -- has been hit hard by the global financial crisis, with sales declining and credit markets freezing, leading many carmakers to slash production.
"The arrival of Daimler gives us the chance to create a modern truck that will sell well not only in Russia but also abroad," said Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian Technologies. He also chairs the Kamaz board.
Stuttgart-based Daimler started negotiations earlier this year with the Russian investment company Troika Dialog. It had said it was considering buying a 42 percent stake, worth nearly $2 billion, but later reports said it had lowered its sights.
Kamaz is Russia's leading truck company, with a market share of about 30 percent. It sold more than 53,000 trucks in 2007 and had $3.8 billion in revenue.
Russian Technologies, a state holding which includes aircraft, defense and car manufacturing holdings, has a 37.8 percent stake in Kamaz.