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Roman Abramovich’s Truphone being sold for about $1

A British telecoms company owned by Roman Abramovich is being sold to two European tech entrepreneurs for about $1.

Truphone, valued at $512 million ($410 million) in 2020, has received almost $375 million of investment from Abramovich and two business partners, Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov. According to the newspaper, Abramovich owns 23% of the company.

Truphone hired the advisory firm FRP in April to review its “strategic options” following the sanctions imposed on the former owner of Chelsea FC.

Hakan Koc is one of the two entrepreneurs who has emerged as one of the preferred bidders for Truphone, according to The Times.

However, rivals are concerned about Koc’s links to Frolov as his used car marketplace Auto1 has received funds from a firm run by Frolov’s son.

Koc would own 90% of Truphone while his business associate, a former telecom executive and private equity investor, Pyrros Koussios, would own 10% of the company, the Financial Times reported. Truphone provides electronic SIM cards for companies and consumers.

Abramovich had to sell Chelsea FC after being hit by western sanctions amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The $5.3 billion deal was finalised last month to a group led by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and the investment firm Clearlake.

Abramovich was once one of Russia’s richest oligarchs, worth an estimated $14 billion, but his wealth has nearly halved due to western sanctions.

According to the report, the current owners of Truphone have committed to invest more than $12 million and will take on certain contractual obligations, such as one-off payments and debts including a $660,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission linked to the company’s misrepresentation of ownership.

People familiar with the deal said that the existing owners would receive up to a third of the original funds invested, The Times reported. However, Abramovich will not receive the funds while he remains subject sanctions. Business Insider

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