Three more Russian billionaires have resigned from the board of the $22bn (£17bn) investment firm LetterOne after the EU imposed sanctions on its two biggest shareholders.
L'azienda, which owns the health retail chain Holland & Barrett in the UK and a swathe of energy assets across Europa, said on Monday that German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichev and Andrei Kosogov had “resigned from all positions at LetterOne, including the board”.
It said: “None of these three individuals has been sanctioned, but they believe that this is the right thing to do in the long-term interests of LetterOne, its employees and the many jobs it supports in its portfolio companies.”
Last week the UK-based Russian billionaire oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, LetterOne’s founder, e Petr Aven, who between them own just under 50% of LetterOne, had their shares in the company “frozen” after they were hit with EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The pair then stepped down from the London-based investment group.
Mervyn Davies, the company’s chair and a former Labour trade minister, said he was determined to stay on at L1, despite repeated calls for him to step down.
“The new board and I will focus on protecting the enormous economic and social contribution LetterOne makes,” Lord Davies said. “I am also determined to ensure that the 120,000 jobs throughout the UK, US and Europe are protected. We know that everyone involved in L1, including our founders, would want us to take these steps given their love and passion for and heritage in Ukraine.”
Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative MP and the chair of the foreign affairs committee, told the Mail on Sunday that Davies should step down. “Some moments demand a choice, this is one," Egli ha detto.
Davies said LetterOne would make a $150m donation to “support the urgent work under way to help those affected by the war in Ukraine”.
The company said: “We know that everyone at LetterOne, including our founders, support this action. LetterOne’s shareholders have also agreed that all dividends from LetterOne will be paid to ongoing relief efforts for the foreseeable future.”
Khan, who was born in Ukraine and helped to found LetterOne, disse: “The majority of LetterOne founders have deep roots in Ukraine and the destruction of the cities where I spent my childhood and which are home to the graves of our ancestors is heartbreaking. The recent bombing of the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial centre, which we funded and helped create, feels inconceivable.
“My partners and I stand for the earliest end to war and will do all we can to help those affected – whether employees of our businesses in Ukraine, or victims of the violence. We fully support the board’s actions in this matter.”
Fridman and Aven were placed on the EU sanctions list last week but are not under UK or US sanctions. Fridman was described by the EU as “a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle”.
Aven was described by the EU as “one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs” and an “especially close personal friend” of the Rosneft chief executive, Igor Sechin. “He is one of approximately 50 wealthy Russian businessmen who regularly meet with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin,” the EU document said.
The men have denied any “financial or political relationship with President Putin or the Kremlin” and said they would “contest the spurious and unfounded basis for the imposition of these sanctions – vigorously and through all means available to them.”
Fridman, who was listed as the UK’s 11th wealthiest person in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated £11bn fortune, owns Athlone House, a £65m mansion in Highgate, Londra nord.
Aven, who has an estimated $5.5bn fortune, owns Ingliston House, near Virginia Water, su 8.5 acres of land in a gated estate next to Wentworth golf course. It boasts an art collection including works by Larionov, Goncharova and Kandinsky, as well as sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, Henry Moore and Antony Gormley in the garden.