Eastern Europe

Kremlin Delays Baring Vostok Sale Of Russia’s ‘Amazon’ – Ozon – To Possibly Control Who Gets The Asset

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Baring Vostok, the Russian private equity firm that made 500x returns in the Russian Federation’s early wild, wild, east investment days, and run by Michael Calvey, whom the Kremlin jailed in order to force a deal outcome and now has fled Russia, wants to sell its large stake in Russia’s ‘Amazon’, Ozon.

However the Kremiln wants to control who gets the assets.

Baring Vostok’s exit is a complicated case, with 12 Russian portfolio companies involved in its planned “divorce.” With so many different assets, reaching an agreement was never going to be easy. But, according to three sources familiar with the process, the main issue holding up the sale is Baring’s stake in Ozon, Russia’s second largest online marketplace. Baring Vostok controls 27.7% of Ozon, sometimes dubbed “Russia’s Amazon” — a stake worth about $1.6 billion at current exchange rates, reports Russian independent media outlet ‘The Bell’.

The Presidential Administration, which now decides which foreign businesses can and cannot sell their assets, will not give Baring Vostok permission to sell to its chosen buyers precisely because of that Ozon stake, one source told The Bell. Another added that the Kremlin does not want Baring Vostok’s Russian managers to inherit such a large stake in such a valuable asset. They believe the administration sees more suitable candidates to take over Baring’s share of the online retailer, including investment vehicles linked to Ivan Tavrin, the former CEO of top Russian telecoms group MegaFon. Tavrin is actively involved in some deals related to the exit of other online companies due to the war and is one of the candidates that could buy into Yandex as part of its upcoming restructuring. 

A source close to Tavrin denied that he had any interest in Ozon. Representatives of Baring Vostok declined to comment. Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov did not respond to a request to comment.

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