Russia’s richest man may have avoided £1billion Tui share freeze | Tui Travels

Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov may have avoided freezing a £1billion stake in Tui, the world’s biggest tourism company, after selling most of his 34% stake to a US-based company. British Virgin Islands.

Russia’s richest man had become the biggest shareholder in Tui, which has dual listings in Frankfurt and London, after stepping in to keep it afloat during the pandemic. He resigned from Tui‘s board on March 2, two days after he was blacklisted by the EU. The British government imposed sanctions on him on Tuesday.

Mordashov was among the first oligarchs targeted, with the EU citing his investments in Rossiya Bank, described as the “personal bank” of senior Russian officials, and his holdings in TV stations that had played a role in destabilizing the Russian Federation. Ukraine through pro-Russian broadcasts.

Last Friday, Tui announced in a regulatory filing and press release that Mordashov had sold 29.9% of its Tui stake in Ondero Ltd, based in the British Virgin Islands. The shares are worth £1.1 billion at today’s prices. Tui said the remaining 4.1% was sold to the businessman’s Russian investment vehicle, Severgroup. Tui said the transfers were made four days earlier, on February 28 – the day Modashov was named on the EU sanctions list.

Under the sanctions rules, Mordashov’s entire stake in Tui would have been frozen, which would have meant he could not sell his shares, collect dividends, vote at board meetings or profit from participation in any other way.

Alexei Mordashov (left) accompanying Vladimir Putin on an academic visit to Cherepovets, Russia in 2020. Photography: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

However, Tui confirmed that only the small part owned by Severgroup, worth £155million, was frozen. The company said it did not know who owned Ondero, or whether its 29.9% stake had been frozen under the sanctions regime.

A Tui spokesperson said: “We cannot judge whether and how the sanctions apply here. Tui should only be informed if there is a majority shareholder [at Ondero]. Reporting obligations under German capital market law apply to all shareholders of a company, regardless of their registered office. As Tui and German financial regulator BaFin have not received any additional notification of voting rights, the company cannot pursue this or identify Ondero’s shareholders.

Bloomberg reported last week that Ondero’s stake remained “affiliated” with Mordashov. Information about its true owner is hidden by the privacy rules of the British Virgin Islands. The British Overseas Territory and former colony has resisted calls to make its company register public, meaning shareholder information can only be obtained in exceptional circumstances, such as a request from security forces. order.

Mordashov transferred another valuable asset on February 28, selling a $1.1 billion stake in Russian mining group Nordgold to his wife, Marina Mordashova.

The businessman, who is chief executive of Severstal, Russia’s largest steel and mining group, also chairs its parent company, Severgroup, a private investment firm, which has interests ranging from telecommunications to gold mining, media and engineering.

A Severstal spokesperson said the company could not comment on the Ondero deal. She added: “I just want to remind you that Mr Mordashov was on the EU sanctions list before [on 28 February]. So nothing really changes for Tui with the UK sanctions imposed on Mr Mordashov. I can also confirm that he has no assets in the UK.

Mordashov pushed back against the EU’s decision to blacklist him, saying the next day: “For a very long time I have been engaged in the development of economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation with many European countries and I do not understand how these sanctions against will contribute to the settlement of the terrible conflict in Ukraine.

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