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Russia's Basic Element buys shares in Canadian parts-maker Magna

Russian conglomerate Basic Element has acquired an 18% stake in Magna International Inc, a Canadian autoparts manufacturer which has reportedly made a bid for beleaguered Chrysler Group, the two companies said Thursday.

Basic Element's subsidiary Russian Machines, which also owns Russia's second-largest automaker GAZ Group, paid $1.54 billion to acquire 20 million shares in Magna International Inc.. Magna's joint chief executives Donald Walker and Siegfried Wolf said the acquisition presented enormous possibilities to expand into the growing Russian market and surrounding region. Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who owns Basic Element, said the deal would help his company reach its own international goals. Basic Element is one of Russia's largest companies, with an annual revenue of $18 billion and 240,000 employees. It has holdings in metal, machines, auto and financial sectors.

DaimlerChrysler has reportedly taken a number of bids for its US subsidiary Chrysler. Magna made a bid Thursday together with Canadian investment firm Onex, according to Canadian media reports. Magna's largest shareholder and chairman of the board Frank Stronach said he wants DaimlerChrysler to keep a stake in the automaker. US billionaire Kirk Kerkorian has also made a bid for Chrysler, to the tune of $4.5 billion. Magna on Thursday also announced that 2007 Q1 profits rose 2.8% to $218 million. Revenue climbed 7% to $6.4 billion in the quarter. (