From left: Alexey Sagal, Ivan Tavrin, Alexander Govor
A year and a half after the Russian invasion, dozens of Western companies have left Russia, selling off $21 billion worth of assets.
The sale was made at prices well below their value and among the companies that left in 2022 are McDonald’s, Ball Corp and Henkel.
The Russian businessmen who took advantage of the situation are neither the most famous nor the richest in the country. They are a new generation of the Russian elite who have worked alongside billionaires and of course have not entered the radar of Western sanctions.
Buy assets from 2 billion to as little as $1
Ivan Tavrin, the former head of a Russian mobile phone company and partner of billionaire Alisher Usmanov, recently spent more than $2 billion on the Russian classifieds site Avito of global investment group Prosus NV.
Alexey Sagal was active in perfumes and cosmetics, but he seized the opportunity to buy the assets of Ball Corp, a beverage packaging company, as well as the assets left behind by Heineken, including seven breweries, which he bought for one euro.
Alexander Govor was one of the first to move quickly when Western companies began to leave Russia. It bought all McDonald’s facilities in May last year, acquiring 850 Russian stores overnight.
Govor’s fortune comes from his stake in Yuzhkuzbassugol, one of Russia’s largest producers of granulated coal. He left in 2007 after two deadly mine explosions, selling to Britain’s Evraz, the steelmaker part-owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Of course, the Russian oligarchs known in the West were not left out of the benefits of the exit of international companies.
Before Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s richest man, was hit by US and UK sanctions, he bought Rosbank PJSC from Societe Generale.
Billionaire Andrey Komarov, who was not sanctioned, bought three Russian factories from global packaging company Amcor Plc for about $395 million.
And where the Russian tycoons did not rush, the Russian government itself took control of subsidiary companies such as Danone and Carlsberg.
The Kremlin’s response to the mass exodus of companies was immediate, with the country placing restrictions on the sale of Russian assets without approval from a special government committee.
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