February 1, 2018 / 9:55 AM / a year ago

Fridman says not sure how U.S. oligarchs list will impact business

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Billionaire businessman Mikhail Fridman, a member of the supervisory board of Russian food retailer X5 (PJPq.L), said it was difficult to predict how his inclusion on an “oligarchs’ list” by the United States would affect his business empire.

Mikhail Fridman (L), Chairman of Supervisory Board of Alfa Group Consortium and Member of Supervisory Board of Х5 Retail Group, and Igor Shekhterman, Chief Executive Officer of Х5 Retail Group, slice a cake during a ceremony as Х5 Retail Group starts trading on Moscow Exchange in the city of Moscow, Russia February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Drawn up as part of a sanctions package signed into law in August 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the list of Russian executives on Tuesday.

Inclusion does not mean individuals will necessarily be subject to sanctions but does cast the shadow of the risk of sanctions.

Fridman and his partners control Alfa Group, which includes top Russian private bank Alfa Bank, its biggest food retailer X5 Retail Group and other assets.

Fridman is also a principal shareholder in LetterOne which invests in energy, telecoms, technology and other areas.

The list includes people with wealth of $1 billion and higher.

“Based on the criteria of the report neither I nor my partners could have avoided inclusion,” Fridman told reporters in Moscow on Thursday. “We have been on the Forbes list for quite a long time.”

He said it was hard to estimate the consequences for X5 or his other businesses but the inclusion was unlikely to do “any favours (for the business)”.

On Thursday, X5 (FIVEDR.MM) began trading on the Moscow Exchange. Its main listing is on the London Stock Exchange where the company has been trading since 2005.

The additional listing should boost X5’s stock liquidity and open it to additional investors, Chief Financial Officer Svetlana Demyashkevich told reporters at a ceremony which she attended along with Fridman and other executives.

Given the risk of sanctions facing Russia’s wealthiest people, the finance ministry plans to give them priority in a sovereign Eurobond issue due later this year.

Asked about that, Fridman, whose wealth is estimated by Forbes at $14.4 billion, said he did not have any immediate plans to take part.

“If the terms are attractive, then maybe I’ll think about (investing) my personal funds,” he said.

Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Katya Golubkova; editing by Jason Neely

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