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Sollers in talks to buy Mazda out of Russian joint venture

FILE PHOTO: Employees work on the production line of the CX-5 model car at the Mazda Sollers Manufacturing Rus joint venture plant of Sollers and Japanese Mazda in Vladivostok

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian automaker Sollers is in talks with Mazda Motor Corp about buying the Japanese company's stake in their Russian joint venture, Sollers said on Monday, as Mazda prepares to wind down operations in Russia.

Mazda, which sold 30,000 cars in Russia last year, said in March that exports of parts to the venture's Vladivostok plant were going to end and production would cease when stocks ran out. The Nikkei newspaper on Saturday first reported the talks with Sollers.

Sollers said it was in talks with Mazda over stopping car production in Vladivostok and on buying out Mazda's stake in the venture.

"At the same time, Sollers Auto has already developed a plan to relaunch the factory for production of other automobile brands and negotiations on this issue are currently being finalised," Sollers said in a statement.

It did not give a timeframe for stopping production at the Vladivostok plant.

A Mazda spokesperson said the company was discussing ending vehicle production in Vladivostok, without giving details.

Mazda's Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday it had decided to end vehicle production in Russia due to the interruption in supplies of key materials and parts.

Many factories in Russia have suspended production and furloughed workers due to shortages of high-tech equipment because of sanctions and an exodus of Western manufacturers since Moscow sent armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama in Tokyo and Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Mark Potter)