World News

Private shareholders exercise option to buy state’s 30.5% stake in Moscow airport

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Private shareholders in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport have exercised a call option to buy the Russian state’s 30.5% stake in the airport, a representative of the Sheremetyevo Holding company told Reuters on Thursday.

Sheremetyevo, Russia’s largest airport and main international transit hub, had traffic of 49.9 million people in 2019, an 8.9% increase on the previous year, and is the base of national carrier Aeroflot <AFLT.MM>.

Earlier on Thursday, the Vedomosti daily reported that Rosimushchestvo, a government agency that handles Russian state property, had received an application from Sheremetyevo Holding to buy the state’s stake, but did not specify the price.

The chairman of Sheremetyevo’s board Alexander Ponomarenko told Reuters in April he and two other partners were considering buying the state’s stake in Sheremetyevo last year, with a view to selling to an outside investor.

Ponomarenko told Reuters the three partners had wanted to sell a 10% stake for $400-500 million.

Sheremetyevo Holding Company, which controls the business, has around a 66% stake in the airport.

Ponomarenko’s family trust holds 65.22% of that stake along with the family of his business partner, Alexander Skorobogatko. Arkady Rotenberg, a former judo training partner of Russian President Vladimir Putin, owns the remaining 34.78%.

Ponomarenko has previously told Reuters that the Sheremetyevo shareholders have an agreement with the authorities on a call option for the state’s shares, a right to buy.

The state has the right to sell at any time, a put option, but the shareholders have the right to buy them from the state.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, Writing by Alexander Marrow; editing by David Evans)