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FT: French company Danone plans to sell Russian subsidiary to Kadyrov-linked businessman

by Nate Ostiller February 21, 2024 3:08 PM 2 min read
A factory belonging to the French dairy company Danone near Chekhov, Russia, on July 22, 2017. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP via Getty Images)
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The French dairy products company Danone plans to sell its Russian subsidiary to a businessman linked to the nephew of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, the Financial Times (FT) reported on Feb. 21, citing sources and documents it had viewed.

Danone's Russian assets were placed under "temporary management" by the Russian government in July 2023 in response to Western sanctions against Russian companies abroad.

Danone originally said it would stay in Russia following the full-scale invasion in 2022 but changed course later in October of that year, pursuing a sale of its Russian operations in what would likely be a significant financial loss for the company.

According to a letter sent to Russia's Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, viewed by the FT, Danone wants to sell the subsidiary to Vamin Tatarstan, a company owned by Russian businessman Mintimer Minzagov.

Minzagov was appointed to the board of the company, rebranded to "Life and Nutrition," by Kadyrov's nephew Yakub Zakriev, who himself was appointed by the Kremlin to run the Danone subsidiary after its seizure by Russia.

The letter said that Life and Nutrition offered 17.7 billion rubles ($191.5 million) to purchase Danone's Russian subsidiary.

Two people familiar with the potential sale told the FT that Danone "was pursuing a sale" to Vamin Tatarstan. Danone declined to comment, the FT said.

Minzagov has openly supported Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine on social media, posting pictures of himself wearing the "Z" symbol closely associated with the invasion. The picture was tagged as being taken in Russian-occupied Donetsk Oblast.

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