Russian billionaires, co-owners of Alfa Group Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven are selling their shares in Alfa-Bank to free themselves from Western sanctions. This is reported by the Financial Times with reference to sources.
The buyer of the shares of Fridman and Aven will be the main shareholder of Alfa-Bank, Andrey Kosogov, who is not under Western sanctions. In a FT comment, he stated that he had agreed to buy out a stake in the bank from Mikhail Fridman (owns 32.86%) and Petr Aven (owns 12.4%).
The amount of the transaction, according to sources of the publication, is $ 2.3 billion. If the transaction is approved, Fridman and Aven will cease to be indirect owners of the bank.
According to one of the FT’s interlocutors, Fridman and Aven “want to get rid of all their Russian assets so that sanctions are lifted from them.” At the same time, as the newspaper notes, Russian businessmen “did not receive any instructions” that the sale of shares in Alfa-Bank would lead to exclusion from the sanctions lists of the European Union and Great Britain.
One of the FT sources called the deal “beautiful on paper” because, in his opinion, if Kosogov buys a bank from a Cypriot firm, neither side of the deal will be under sanctions. Completing the deal could be difficult due to the difficulty of obtaining regulatory approval in several jurisdictions, two of the newspaper’s sources warned.
Aven and Friedman were included in the personal sanctions lists of the European Union and Great Britain in the spring of 2022 after the start of a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. In the EU’s official journal, Aven and Fridman were called “oligarchs close to Putin.” In May 2022, businessmen challenged the sanctions in the European Court of Justice.
Earlier, a scandal erupted in Russia over a letter signed by journalists and oppositionists, including FBK board chairman Leonid Volkov, in which they asked the EU leadership to lift sanctions against Fridman and Aven.
It also turned out that in October last year, Volkov sent a letter in support of the leaders of Alfa Group to the European Union representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell. As a result, the politician called the letter “a big political mistake” and announced that he had decided to “take a break in his public socio-political activities” as chairman of the board of the international FBK.
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