Russian Tycoon Oleg Tinkov Sells Bank Stake To Oligarch Vladimir Potanin

After a social media row over the “insane” war in Ukraine, Oleg Tinkov, a former billionaire, sold his 35% share in Tinkoff Bank’s Tinkoff Bank to Russia’s richest man Vladimir Potanin.

On Thursday, Oleg Tinkov, a Russian tycoon and outspoken speaker, announced that he would sell 35% of Tinkoff Bank shares to Vladimir Potantin’s Inteross conglomerate. Russia’s richest man has mostly escaped Western sanctions and built his stake in Russia’s banking sector by buying Societe Generale’s Russian bank unit earlier this month.

This sale comes less than one week after Tinkov (ex-owner of Tinkoff UCI cycling teams) spoke out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an Instagram curse-filled post calling the war “insane.”

Tinkoff’s holding firm TCS Group Holdings had a joint listing at the London and Moscow Stock Exchanges. However, its shares plunged more than 90% after the conflict began on February 24. The shares of Tinkoff’s holding company TCS Group Holdings have resumed trading on Moscow Stock Exchange but are still suspended in London. Although the company’s market capitalization was $650 million at Tinkov’s sale, the terms were not disclosed. However, Tinkov could be worth around $225 million. Forbes estimates Tinkov’s peak worth at $7.7 billion.

Oleg Tinkov, in a statement, said that “I’m proud that together with my team, we have managed to create the best bank in our country entirely from scratch.” “It’s the right time for me, therefore, to retire and spend more time looking after my health and my loved ones.”

The end of a significant episode of the turbulent career of Tinkoff, a Russian entrepreneur and billionaire, seems to be the sale of the digital bank named after him, Tinkoff. After a successful start-up in home brewing and home goods, the son of a Siberian coal miner started Tinkoff bank in 2006. Tinkov was charged with tax evasion in the United States and was released in exchange for a $509 million settlement in October 2021. After being diagnosed with acute leukemia, he resigned as chairman of Tinkoff Bank.

Tinkov was placed under sanctions by the British government. He now lives in Italy with other Russian billionaires. Tinkov, once boasting to the Financial Times of his connections with President Vladimir Putin, was once a rare voice among Russia’s super-rich condemning the war. Tinkov’s Instagram posting about war included an English plea to Western leaders: “Please grant Mr. Putin a lucid way out to save his face, and conclude this massacre.”

Although all Russian aircraft are banned from British or European airspace, the former billionaire still has the La Dacha collection, luxury Villas in Baja California, ski chalets in France Alps, and a Dassault Falcon 7X.

Tinkov’s challenges and other Russian billionaires such as Petr Aven or Mikhail Fridman are in stark contrast to Potanin. Former Yelstin-era minister owned the Nickel Mining Group Norilsk Nickel around a third and was one of Russia’s first oligarchs. While Canada sanctioned Potanin, he has not been convicted by the British or American authorities.

Potanin and his conglomerate have been able to capitalize on the opportunities that emerged from the turmoil of war, like buying a large stake in Tinkoff. This has been possible because larger banks’ rivals such as Sberbank or VTB were sanctioned and thus locked out of SWIFT’s global payments system.

Potanin’s conglomerate had announced earlier this month that it purchased Rosbank, a Russian lender, from French bank Societe Générale. Eventhough the terms of the deal were not dis-closed, Societe Generale stated that Interros would be paying off Rosbank’s outstanding debts and that the French bank would write down $3.3 billion.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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