Russian banks bid for assets of billionaire ex-mayor's wife

6th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's largest lender has submitted an offer for the construction companies headed by billionaire Yelena Baturina, the wife of Moscow's toppled mayor, her Inteko group said on Tuesday.

The investments branch of Sberbank, the country's largest banking chain, and Mikail Shishkhanov, who controls B&BN Bank, "have signed an irrevocable offer to acquire 100 percent of the shares of Inteko," the statement said.

"The two sides intend to close the deal in the course of a month," the statement said, adding that the offer was signed on Friday. It estimated the value of Inteko and a sister company included in the deal at $1.2 billion.

Baturina, Russia's richest woman, was quoted as saying in the company statement that "taking into account the reasonable market offer, the decision was taken to sell the given assets."

Baturina's husband, Yury Luzhkov, was sacked by President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010 after 18 years as mayor after his reputation had become tarnished by corruption allegations over the awarding of city contracts to Baturina.

His firing made Baturina's position virtually untenable, as the new administration froze or cancelled investment contracts with Inteko and she said in an interview that she no longer felt comfortable in Moscow.

She now spends time in Austria and Britain, where the couple owns luxury properties, while the couple's two daughters are studying in London. Luzhkov has remained in Moscow.

Inteko's offices in central Moscow were raided by police in February during a probe into an emergency loan the company received from a bank founded by Luzhkov, the Bank of Moscow.

Baturina was listed as Russia's 77th richest business person by Forbes magazine in March with a fortune of $1.2 billion.

Before her husband's ouster, Baturina was ranked the world's third richest self-made woman by Forbes in 2010 with a fortune of $2.9 billion.

© 2011 AFP

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