BMW’s finance boss says Crimean crisis can affect the company’s Russian business image

BMW finance chief said the carmaker’s outlook in Russia, one of its fastest growing markets, could be jeopardized if the crisis between Ukraine and Russia worsens. Even BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer urged for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

An Ukrainian serviceman was killed in Crimea when a Simferopol base of the Ukrainian army came under attack, the first death in the region from a military clash since Russia took control of the peninsula three weeks ago.

Russia was among BMW’s fastest growing markets in 2013, rising 11.8 percent to a record 44,871 vehicles. However, Russia only made up 2 percent of BMW Group’s total sales of 1.96 million units last year.

BMW’s Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said the carmaker is aware of potential risks from an escalation of the conflict.

“There are risks in the Russian business. We see risks in currency, the rouble has weakened. So long as the crisis does not escalate then we stick to our guidance. If it does, all our statements about our outlook that we made today need to be questioned,” Eichiner was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The Russian market is one of the most promising for luxury car manufacturers, with BMW’s board member for sales and marketing Ian Robertson saying he sees potential in the country in the longer term.