Russian oligarch Tavrin to take over Melon Fashion Group's Russian stores

Russian oligarch Ivan Tavrin has secured backing from the country’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to take control of Melon Fashion Group's (MFG) stores in Russia.

St. Petersburg-based MFG is best known for its brands Zarina, Befree, Love Republic and Sela. At the end of 2022, the group had 867 stores across five countries.

On Thursday, FAS said it had approved a request from Tavrin-owned Radio Reklama to acquire the Russian operations of the four chains. Tavrin’s business will buy up to 75 per cent of MFG Invest shares and the right to control its activities in Russia.

Tavrin has been a major beneficiary of corporate asset transfers since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022. Tavrin's Kismet Capital Group acquired Russian online marketplace Avito for $1.56 billion from Netherlands-based Proseus. It also has acquired a stake in the Russian business of German consumer goods group Henkel.

Elsewhere, Sweden’s Eastnine has completed the divestment of its 36 per cent stake in MFG to a Cyprus-based investment firm for €146 million.

In a statement, Eastnine said:"The purchase in Eastnine's account in a European bank. Eastnine immediately initiates exchange of the rouble holdings, which is expected to be completed within a couple of weeks."

Hundreds of international brands have abandoned the country in protest, leaving thousands of storefronts which once housed household names like Nike and Zara standing empty. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Western companies to divest their Russian assets, with Moscow setting strict requirements including a 50 per cent discount in order to approve deals.

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