Russia faces a new drama involving the authorities and a billionaire accused of a criminal offence who claims, in his defence, to be the victim of a political vendetta.
The star of the show this time is Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB agent turned businessman and Kremlin critic, who owns British newspapers headed by The Independent and the London Evening Standard, as well as Novaya Gazeta, an opposition-minded Russian newspaper that focuses on official corruption.
The alleged offence is far more colourful than the usual tax fraud charges levelled against oligarchs. Lebedev is charged with hooliganism over a television punch-up that was watched by millions (see after the break). This one could run and run. Continue reading »
As the judgement in the Boris Berezovsky vs. Roman Abramovich case at London’s Commercial Court has shown (with victory for Abramovich) silent partnerships based on oral agreements can lead to unintended financial and reputational consequences. Abramovich may have won, but he has been forced to disclose uncomfortable details about his business practices, and investors have learnt of the extent to which business in Russia is reliant on krysha or protection. Continue reading »
But Berezovsky is far from being the only loser. Russian business has suffered another damaging assault on its reputation. By shining a light on the ugly inner workings of Russian capitalism in the 1990s, the trial will serve as a warning to investors doing deals with oligarchs – beware of the past, it may come back and bite you. Continue reading »
Who owns the Russian equity market and how does ownership affect company performance? A new research note from Troika Dialog sheds some light.
The short answer to the first question is, the state, which is the single largest player with 30 per cent of equity ownership. This compares with a free float of 27 per cent owned by institutional and private investors. The answer to the second question is a bit more complex. Continue reading »
After years of squabbling, an amicable parting of ways between Megafon shareholders appears to be close on the horizon. The Russian mobile operator announced on Friday that it had secured a total $4.5bn in financing from Sberbank, Gazprom and western lenders, paving the way for Megafon’s management and biggest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, to buy out rival oligarch Mikhail Fridman’s stake in the business.
A sale of the 25 per cent stake (held through Altimo, the telecoms arm of Fridman’s Alfa-Group) is expected to speed along Megafon’s long-awaited IPO which could now take place in the second half of this year if everything goes accordingly. Continue reading »
The Russian aluminium producer’s net profit for 2011 fell by more than 90 per cent after a $1.4bn writedown on the value of its 30 per cent stake in Norilsk Nickel. Lex discuss the implications for the investors of the determined pursuit of Norilsk by Rusal’s controlling shareholder Oleg Deripaska.
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