Business Essentials for Professionals


Moscow Seizes Ownership Of Western Corporations' Assets

Moscow Seizes Ownership Of Western Corporations' Assets
Through presidential decrees issued by Vladimir Putin and court decisions pertaining to litigation over delayed projects or blocked cash during Western sanctions, the Kremlin has begun confiscating assets of certain Western corporations in Russia.
The list of businesses impacted thus far is shown below.


According to a Putin-signed order, Russia took control of AgroTerra's agricultural businesses in April and put them under temporary supervision. Some of these businesses had support from Dutch investment groups.


After the Norwegian publisher gave Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, complete control over its publishing facilities in Russia in April 2022, Putin issued an order in September transferring Amedia's previous holdings to state management.


According to a Putin-signed order, the Russian government assumed control of Danish beer giant Carlsberg's ownership in regional brewer Baltika Breweries on July 16 and placed it under the "temporary management" of the government property agency Rosimushchestvo.


In the course of a dispute between Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank, a Russian court ordered the seizure of the German bank's assets, valued at 93.7 million euros ($101.9 million), along with securities and the bank's major Moscow headquarters, according to court records on May 18.


According to a document signed by Putin, the Russian government seized control of the French yoghurt manufacturer Danone's Russian subsidiary, Danone Russia, on July 16 and placed it under the temporary administration of the government property agency.
In March, Putin took it off the list of assets under temporary administration. Later, Danone announced that it has secured the necessary regulatory permissions to sell its countrywide Essential Dairy and Plant-based business to Vamin R LLC.
Deutsche Bank

Court documents related to a lawsuit that also involves Commerzbank showed on May 18 that a Russian court ordered the seizure of up to 238.6 million euros ($259.4 million) in securities, real estate, and bank accounts of Deutsche Bank, along with its Russian subsidiary and Deutsche Bank Technology Centre.


Putin issued an executive order in April 2023 establishing authority over the Russian arm of the Finnish utility corporation Fortum, which runs electricity facilities in Russia. The division was placed under interim asset management, and the CEO was removed.


Putin took control of St Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport on December 1st, appointing a Russian holding company to temporarily oversee the airport from German airport operator Fraport, investors from various Gulf governments, and Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar.


In a filing on May 2, JPMorgan Chase stated that it might have its assets in Russia taken following legal actions in both Russian and American courts. It claimed that the value of the asset freezing orders and claims exceeded its accessible assets in Russia.
After Russian state-owned bank VTB filed a lawsuit to recover its monies that had been frozen overseas, a Russian court ruled in April that money in JPMorgan accounts be seized. JPMorgan filed a lawsuit against VTB Bank in Russia to thwart VTB's attempt to get $439.5 million.


According to presidential directives released on December 19, the interests held by the Austrian oil and gas corporation OMV in the gas extraction projects Achimov and the Yuzhno-Russkoye field will be transferred to recently established Russian enterprises and put up for sale to Gazovyye Tekhnologii. After that, SOGAZ, a joint stock corporation, will purchase OMV's assets.


After Rolf, an automobile dealership owned by a company located in Cyprus, was put under interim state supervision in December, a Russian court ruled on February 21 that ownership of the dealership's shares be transferred to the Russian government, according to Russian news sources.


In a dispute over the Italian bank's cancelled gas project, the St. Petersburg arbitration court decided on May 18 that UniCredit's accounts, property, and interests in two companies be confiscated.

According to UniCredit, the seizure only touched a small portion of the assets of its Russian affiliate, not the whole business.


In April 2023, the Russian business of the German utility Uniper, which operates five power facilities in Russia, was targeted by the Kremlin, which also appointed a new CEO and foreign management.


Dec. 19 presidential decrees formalise the loss of control that Wintershall Dea and BASF had been pointing out since January 2023. They state that Wintershall Dea's interests in the Yuzhno-Russkoye field and the Achimov projects will revert to newly established Russian companies and be put up for sale to Gazovyye Tekhnologii.

Wintershall Dea is a joint venture between BASF and LetterOne, an investment business owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.


Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc