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History Repeating Itself…

It appears that the ‘peacemakers’ from the Yusufov family once again are aiming to expand their wealth of assets. This time the head of the family – Igor Yusufov, a former energy minister, decided to acquire shares in the Domodedovo airport. Yusufov, who was close to Kremlin since the Boris Yeltsin times, served as Russia’s Energy Minister in 2001 during the Putin administration. Until recently, he was President’ Medvedev special envoy for energy cooperation and, apparently, remains close to Kremlin even after his resignation. Much has been said lately about Yusufov’s ‘peacemaking’ skills and his ability to help to resolve conflicts with extraction of benefit for himself.

According to an article in ‘Vedomosti’, published last week, Igor Yusufov now wants to get involved in business, just like his son Vitaliy. Domodedovo, Russia’s largest international airport, certainly is a great investment. However, it had a number of problems recently. Domodedovo’s constant struggles with smuggling in the airport, recent terrorist attack and resulting trouble with the Russian government, Prosecutors Office and other governmental structures were quickly spotted by Yusufov as the Airport’s weak spots that significantly decrease the real price of the asset and so could be used for his advantage.

It is not surprising that Domodedovo quickly saw Yusufov knocking on the doors of the Airport owners. Yusufov is offering them around $1 billion for a controlling stake, while potentially Domodedovo Airport could have been valued at about $3,5-7,5 billion dollars, according to estimates, made ahead of the planned IPO of Domodedovo on the London Stock Exchange.

It seems that all the necessary administrative support is available to Yusufov. A recent article in Kommersant says that if Yusufov does not have enough funds to purchase a controlling stake, he may receive a loan from a state company, such as VTB.

The way this deal is being done raises a number of questions and it is hard not to draw parallels with Bank of Moscow sale. One of these questions is: whose interests is Yusufov representing in these deals? Many will find it hard to believe that he is acting independently.

To find out more about a potential sale of Domodedovo shares and Yusufov’s involvement, read articles here, from Vedomosti and Kommersant.

Recent analysis of the situation around Domodedovo can be found in this article from the Profile Magazine.