Russian billionaire sells his $500 million company for $1 after Ukraine sanctions – Mother Jones


Former Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich attends a game in May 2021. AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File

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Russian oligarch and billionaire Roman Abramovich, one of Russia’s most prominent oligarchs, will sell his stake in a European telecommunications company for just £1, the equivalent of one US dollar, for an investment that was worth a half a billion dollars before. the oligarch faced severe Western sanctions thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s instigation of war in Ukraine. News that Abramovich will sell the business he and two business partners have already invested in for up to $375m (about £300m) comes in a report from the British newspaper The temperaturejust a week after the British government approved a deal for Abramovich to sell Chelsea Football Club, one of the Premier League’s top teams and one of the world’s most valuable sports franchises, for $5 billion .

Either way, Abramovich will make little or no profit from the sales, with any potential financial benefit to him frozen until he is no longer sanctioned. In the case of telecommunications company Truphone, Abramovich will be allowed to recoup up to a third of his initial investment, but he will receive none while he remains under sanctions. With the sale of Chelsea FC, to a consortium of investors Ied by Todd Boehly, an American investment banker who is also a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the $3 billion Abramovich invested in the team will be placed in a special fund that the British government can use to benefit the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The remaining $2 billion will be invested in the team, leaving Abramovich with nothing.

The sale of his assets represents a dizzying fall for Abramovich. He made billions in the early years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, taking control of huge oil and aluminum resources in the chaos of Russia’s transition from communism and transforming the money in Western investments, including Chelsea, various tech companies and private equity. investments in the United States. He also became a citizen of Israel, where he made huge philanthropic donations, and of Portugal. Abramovich was previously active in Russian politics, but he resigned from a governorship in 2008 and has since denied being close to Putin. However, the European Union and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on him soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in March. The United States reportedly considered sanctioning him, but delayed at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who argued that Abramovich could be helpful in negotiations with Putin.

In 2021, estimates of Abramovich’s wealth reached as high as $14 billion, but after the start of the war and the sanctions against him, it dropped to nearly $6 billion. Although Abramovich appeared to be relatively cooperative in the sale of his telecommunications company and his football club, he did not go down without a fight against sanctions. Last week, the oligarch filed a lawsuit against the European Union to remove itself from the sanctions list there. Nearly two dozen other Russian oligarchs also appear to have filed similar lawsuits in the EU.


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