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Ukraine’s richest man to lose assets in Russia

A Russian conglomerate will be allowed to buy out the coal-mining companies previously owned by Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, the Kremlin confirmed on Thursday. President Vladimir Putin approved the sale in line with the standing anti-sanctions measures.

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The joint stock company ‘Best Solution’ will acquire 100% of the shares of Don Anthracite and Obukhovsky Mine Management, located in the Rostov Region, from the Cyprus-based Fabcell Limited.

Putin signed off on the sale under his August 2022 decree on “applying special economic measures in the financial, fuel and energy sectors in connection with the unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organizations.” 

Akhmetov’s energy holding company DTEK originally bought the two enterprises in 2012, for $39 million. By 2021, however, DTEK announced that it would be selling them to pay off the debts it owed Sberbank. According to the Russian outlet Kommersant, Don Anthracite and Obukhovsky Mine Management were sold in August 2021 to the Cyprus-based Valleyton Investments for $230 million, while their outstanding debt was estimated at almost $447 million.

In September of 2022, however, Akhmetov’s assets in Russia were seized for “financing terrorism,” because his SCM Holding was giving significant amounts of money to the Ukrainian military. Another Cyprus-based company, Fabcell Limited, appeared at that time as the legal owner of the two mining enterprises. 

In June 2023, Fabcell handed the administration of Don Anthracite and Obukhovsky Mine Management to SBK Premier, formerly a division of Sberbank. 

’Best Solution’ was founded as a small business joint stock company in November 2022, and acquired by Orion-1 Specialized Financial Company LLC in January 2023, reportedly led by senior Sberbank executives.

Akhmetov is considered the richest man in Ukraine, with $5.7 billion in assets. His holding company SCM is the largest shareholder of DTEK, and has investments in a variety of industries, from energy and transport to mining, metallurgy, banking and finance. He is also the owner of the soccer club Shakhtar Donetsk, named after the coal mines.

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