Russian regulator backs Hyundai purchase of GM plant in St Petersburg

A man walks past the logo of Hyundai Motor during the 2019 Seoul Motor Show in Goyang, South Korea, March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Files

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Anti-Monopoly Service said on Monday it had approved Hyundai's 005380.KS possible acquisition of a General Motors GM.N factory in St Petersburg, the Interfax news agency reported.

Hyundai’s Russian unit confirmed last month it was discussing the acquisition of the factory, but declined to provide further details.

Russia’s auto market has come under strain from the coronavirus crisis, which caused new car sales to plunge earlier this year.

The GM factory in Shushary in St Petersburg’s suburbs can manufacture up to 100,000 cars a year.

It was built in 2008 but closed in 2015 as part of GM’s decision to reduce its international operations.

Hyundai and partner Kia already have a factory in Russia with a manufacturing capacity of more than 200,000 vehicles per year.

The two carmakers sold more than 400,000 vehicles in Russia last year, more than Russian auto giant Avtovaz.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Gleb Stolyarov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Jason Neely