VW’s Skoda in final stages of exit from Russia

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Skoda carmaker is seen at the entrance of a showroom in Nice

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Czech carmaker Skoda Auto, part of the Volkswagen Group, is in the final stages of quitting Russia after taking an almost 700 million euros ($742 million) hit from the impact of Moscow’s war in Ukraine, its CEO said on Thursday.

Skoda, the leader of a Czech car sector that is the backbone of the country’s industrial output, has seen its Russian operation hit hard by the disruptions caused by the war and by Western sanctions imposed on Russia.

The carmaker said on Thursday its net profit dropped 11.7% to 489 million euros in 2022, affected also by a steep rise in material prices and global supply chain bottlenecks.

Skoda’s deliveries in Russia plummeted to 18,300 cars in 2022 from 90,400 in 2021, when the country was Skoda’s second-largest market.

“The talks (on the sale) are in the final stages, but I can’t give you details until they are agreed by all parties,” Chief Executive Klaus Zellmer told an annual press conference streamed online.

He said Skoda aimed to replace lost Russian production at its other plants around the globe.

Volkswagen brand chief executive Thomas Schaefer made similar comments on Thursday.

On prospects for this year, Skoda board member for sales, Martin Jahn, said production and sales should exceed last year, when global deliveries dropped to 731,300 cars.

This should be helped in part by Skoda’s upcoming entry into the Vietnamese market, where it will start selling its cars in the second quarter. Jahn estimated the initial potential at 30,000 cars.

Skoda will also take over strategic management of Volkswagen’s expansion in South East Asia.

($1 = 0.9430 euros)

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Mark Potter)