(Reuters) – Russia’s top carmaker Avtovaz said on Monday it had appointed former transport minister Maxim Sokolov as its new president and CEO after its main shareholder Renault withdrew from the Russian market.

Renault struck a deal to sell its majority stake in Avtovaz to a Russian science institute, reportedly for the symbolic sum of just one rouble, with a six-year option to buy it back.

Sokolov, who served as Russia’s transport minister from 2012-2018, is replacing Nicolas Maure, who began his tenure in May 2021. The board’s decision to appoint Sokolov came into effect on Monday.

“The most important goal for us is the rapid development of the supplier base, first of all domestic suppliers,” Sokolov said in a statement.

Sales of Avtovaz’s Lada cars slumped in April by 78% and the carmaker has paused production until May 27 due to a lack of parts and weak demand.

More than 400 companies have withdrawn from Russia since it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, leaving behind assets worth billions of dollars.

Russia calls its actions a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it calls dangerous nationalists.

The West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia and provided Ukraine with military support in response.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Mark Potter)