Russians 'steal' airline from foreign investors: US director

30th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The foreign executives of Russia's first low-cost airline, a Russian-US joint venture, on Thursday accused Russian shareholders of illegally seizing control of the company.

Avianova airline director Michael Hayden said that "all expatriates were expelled from offices of Avianova," a joint venture of the A1 subsidiary of Russia's Alfa Group and the US company Indigo.

"They are hunting expats, ignoring foreign investors and stealing the company," he said in an email sent to a Moscow foreign community website.

Hayden said the foreign executives have been locked out of their offices since June 24.

In an email to AFP, Avianova's press service acknowledged the company was in conflict with foreign employees, but rejected the accusations, saying that "according to Russian law only Russian citizens can run an airline."

Avianova is Russia's fourth-largest airline by passenger numbers, with a 51-percent stake held by A1 and the remainder by Indigo.

Amid a massive flight of capital, the Russian authorities, including President Dmitry Medvedev, have repeatedly promised to create a favourable business environment for foreign investors.

But experts say that Medvedev's promise of reforms, economic modernisation and tackling widespread corruption have so far brought few tangible results.

© 2011 AFP

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