Magna denies being asked by Canada to end Russia JV

TORONTO (Bloomberg) -- Magna International CEO Donald Walker says he hasn't been asked to end a Russian joint venture amid mounting tension over Ukraine even as an executive from partner Avtotor Holding Ltd. cited pressure from Canada to do so.

"I haven't heard anything and nobody that I've contacted has heard anything either, so I don't know where that's coming from," Walker told reporters at an economic summit in Toronto on Monday.

Avtotor Chairman Vladimir Scherbakov said earlier at a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that Canada is urging Magna to withdraw its contract with his company. The partnership with Avtotor, a contract manufacturer, was established in November 2012 in Kaliningrad, Russia, to produce automotive components for vehicle assembly.

Canada, like the United States and the European Union, has imposed sanctions on Russia and accused President Vladimir Putin of stoking unrest in Ukraine in the run-up to a May 25 presidential election. Magna hasn’t been affected by the sanctions, Walker said.

“We have a number of facilities in Russia and we’ve always had good relations,” Walker said. Magna had six manufacturing sites in Russia as of Dec. 31, according to its Web site.

When Magna announced the joint venture, the companies said it had the potential to produce as many as 250,000 vehicles a year by 2018.