Russian tycoon Oleg Tinkov sells bank stake to oligarch Vladimir Potanin

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Outspoken Russian tycoon Oleg Tinkov has said he plans to retire after announcing on Thursday that he would sell his remaining 35% stake in Tinkoff Bank to Vladimir Potantin’s Inteross conglomerate. The deal sees Russia’s richest man, who has largely escaped Western sanctions, boost his stake in the country’s banking sector after buying Societe Generale’s Russian banking unit earlier this month.

The sale comes less than a week after Tinkov, former owner of the Tinkoff UCI cycling team, spoke out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a cursing Instagram post calling the war “crazy “.

Shares of Tinkoff’s holding company, TCS Group Holdings, which had a joint listing on the London and Moscow stock exchanges, plunged more than 90% after the dispute began on February 24. Its shares have since resumed trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange but remain suspended in London. Terms of the sale to mining magnate Potanin, Russia’s richest man, were not disclosed although the company’s market capitalization was recently $650 million, suggesting Tinkov could get around $225 million. of dollars. Forbes estimates that Tinkov was worth more than $7.7 billion at his peak.

“I am proud that I, together with my team, managed to create the best bank in the country entirely from scratch,” Oleg Tinkov said in a statement. “So now is the perfect time for me to retire and spend more time taking care of my health and my beloved family.”

The sale of the digital bank founded by and named after Tinkoff seems to mark the end of an important chapter in the turbulent career of the former Russian billionaire and entrepreneur. The son of a Siberian coal miner started Tinkoff Bank in 2006 after building his initial fortune in brewing and household goods. Tinkov was arrested for U.S. federal tax evasion in March 2020 and settled the case with a $509 million payout in October 2021. He resigned as chairman of Tinkoff Bank in April 2020 after revealing that he had been diagnosed with acute leukemia.

The British government imposed sanctions on Tinkov, who now resides in Italy, as well as several other Russian billionaires and companies it called “accomplices” in the war in Ukraine in March. Tinkov, who once boasted to the FinancialTimes of his relationship with President Vladimir Putin, however, has been a rare voice among Russia’s super-rich to condemn the war. Tinkov’s Instagram post about the war also included a plea in English addressed to Western leaders: “Please give Mr. Putin a clear exit to save face and stop this massacre.”

The former billionaire still owns the La Dacha collection, luxury villas in Baja California and ski chalets in the French Alps, as well as a Dassault Falcon 7X, although all Russian planes are now banned from circulation. British and European airspace.

The challenges facing Tinkov and other Russian billionaires like Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman who faced sanctions and a collapse in their wealth because of the war stand in stark contrast to Potanin. The former Yelstin-era minister was an early Russian oligarch and owns around a third of nickel mining group Norilsk Nickel. While Potanin was sanctioned by Canada it has so far been spared censorship by British, American and European authorities.

This allowed Potanin and his conglomerate to seize opportunities emerging from the upheaval of the war, such as buying a large stake in Tinkoff, which benefited from big banking rivals like Sberbank and VTB sanctioned and locked out of the SWIFT global payment system.

Earlier this month, the Potanin conglomerate announced that it had acquired Russian lender Rosbank from French bank Societe Generale. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Societe Generale said Interros would repay Rosbank’s outstanding loans and the French bank would write off $3.3 billion.

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