KAMAZ ‘breaks up’ with German Knorr-Bremse

Knorr-Bremse Kama JV renamed as KAMAZ Brake Systems — and it will continue supplying car components to the conveyor belt

As Realnoe Vremya found out, KAMAZ completed the process of the official “divorce” with the German brake producer Knorr-Bremse Systeme fur Nutzfahrzeuge managed by Knorr-Bremse Kama Joint Venture in partnership. The Kama factory purchased a 50% share from it paying 69,25 million rubles of the capital contribution to the joint venture. The successor Knorr-Bremse Kama has got a new name: KAMAZ Brake Systems but it remains unknown if it will continue supplying brakes on outsourcing terms like the European JV was “permitted.”

KAMAZ is changing its brakes

“A divorce and a new last name.” This is the final of the European joint venture Knorr-Bremse Kama founded by KAMAZ nearly 15 years ago. One of the firmest “marriages” in the Russian automotive industry broke up under the pressure of international sanctions: the world’s leader in the market of brake and other pneumatic systems for railway and cargo transport exited from the Russian JV, seemingly following the EU’s political narrative. On 28 June, KAMAZ became the only owner of the company making brakes KAMAZ Brake Systems, which became the successor of Knorr-Bremse Kama JV. The press service of KAMAZ confirmed this information. At the same time, Manfred Kindermann remains the director general of the JV, it specified.

Legally, the “divorce” with Knorr-Bremse began two months ago, and this time turned out to be enough to do it quickly and without noise. According to a corporate information disclosure system, KAMAZ renamed the JV into Russian KAMAZ Brake Systems with the previous authorised capital of 138,5 million rubles (Editor’s note: this was registered on 26 May).

At the same time, the partners kept equal shares: KAMAZ and Knorr-Bremse hold 50% of shares each. This allows KAMAZ Brake Systems to save the legal succession of Knorr-Bremse Kama JV. A month later, KAMAZ purchased 50% share from Knorr-Bremse, which is a nominal 69,25 million rubles. As a result, since 26 June, KAMAZ has been the hundred per cent owner of KAMAZ Brake Systems. KAMAZ doesn’t reveal how much severance pay it paid to the Germans. “We don’t comment on the terms of the deal,” head of the press service of KAMAZ Oleg Afanasyev explained to Realnoe Vremya. “I can just add that this enterprise continues its production thanks to the high localisation rate of its production and intends to keep developing the range of products for the lorries of KAMAZ PJSC.”

Russian Vice Premier Yury Borisov: “It is a huge loss”

Knorr-Bremse KAMA became the first of 10 joint ventures with foreign partners that dissolved after the start of the special military operation in Ukraine. Russian Vice Premier Yury Borisov warned about the likelihood of such events during his visit to Kazan. He promised that KAMAZ’s foreign partners would be offered “different civilised options” of asset management in Russia, perhaps, with the temporary transfer of power to the Russian side with further buyout.

“Perhaps KAMAZ will have new partners, which isn’t ruled out in fact. But we, of course, would like to save the existing links with the traditional partners we have created about 10 joint ventures together with an annual output of some €1 billion. For them, I think [the suspension of partnership with KAMAZ] it is a huge loss. Political issues interfere in it. We will try to agree with them in a civilised way so that they cease operations for some time, transferred the rights to the Russian side with further buyout. Generally speaking different civilised options will be offered,” he said.

NEFAZ without electronic brakes?

Knorr-Bremse Kama is the main supplier of brake systems for KAMAZ lorries. Over nearly 15 years since its foundation, it has mastered the whole range of brakes for KAMAZ lorries and two models of NEFAZ towed machinery. The joint venture operated on outsourcing terms. In 2021, revenue totalled 3,6 billion rubles reaching the all-time record. Net profit rose to 184,4 million rubles. None of the partners of the JV was going to get “divorced” earlier this year. As the report of the JV for 2021 reads, the company doesn’t intend to cease operations in Russia.

With the leave of Knorr-Bremse, the supplies of EBS brake systems for buses and NEFAZ tow trucks. Two years ago, the German manufacturer signed a contract to deliver 4,500 brake and gear control systems such as TEBS G2.2 until 31 December 2022, the press service of the German company said.

“The contract expands the existing cooperation between Knorr-Bremse and NEFAZ in Russia, which now allows Knorr-Bremse supplying electronic brake systems for the whole range of NEFAZ. Knorr-Bremse already supplies EBS and electronic stabilisation programme for its buses, including a new generation of e-buses,” its message reads.

Meanwhile, German mass media do not exclude that other foreign partners that have participated in the localisation programme of car components since late 2008. Since then, KAMAZ has had a joint venture with the German company ZF Friedrichshafen in making gearboxes, Cummins Kama JV operates with American Cummins in making engines, with Federal Mogul, a JV produces pistons. But the partners have not announced a divorce yet.”

Luiza Ignatyeva

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