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Banks give the elbow to oligarchs

Two leading Russian investment banks, Troika Dialog and Trust Investment Bank, have both completed management buy-outs.

Both are designed to cut loose oligarch shareholders " it is undesirable to have links with them since Yukos was broken up.

For Trust Investment Bank, its MBO had a simple objective " distance the bank from Menatep, its former owner and the current target of a Kremlin legal assault.

Menatep, whose principal shareholders are the jailed Mikhail Khordorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, previously owned 99.3% of the bank. However, as of November, five senior managers own 80%, with 15 other managers owning smaller stakes.

Illya Yurov, the bank's founder and chairman, owns a slightly larger stake than the other managers. He says: "There was a certain level of frustration among clients when 70% of our equity was owned by people under criminal charges. Clients were afraid the whole operation would go bust."

Yurov admits the price the management paid Menatep for the bank " $107 million " was at a significant discount. "It was a price fair to that particular moment," he says.

Troika Dialog's CEO, Ruben Vardanian, has been trying to complete his MBO ever since 1997, when Troika's founder, Peter Derby, sold 86% of the brokerage to Bank of Moscow for a reported $65 million, leaving Troika management with 15% of the shares.

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