Putin Campaigner Buys $269 Million Phosagro Stake From Guryevs

Vladimir Litvinenko, the former chairman of OAO Phosagro, boosted his stake in the Russian fertilizer producer company to almost 15 percent after buying shares from the controlling owners.

Carranita Holdings Ltd., controlled by the family of co-founder Andrey Guryev senior, sold 4.9 percent of Phosagro to Litvinenko for $269 million, the Moscow-based producer said today in a regulatory filing. The market value of the stake is $220 million, based on today’s share price in Moscow.

Litvinenko, who was Phosagro board chairman until 2011, was President Vladimir Putin’s campaign manager during presidential elections in St. Petersburg and is rector of the St. Petersburg Mining University where Putin got a doctorate degree in 1997. Litvinenko, 59, held about 9.6 percent of Phosagro directly and through a trust before the transaction announced today, according to Phosagro.

“I bought the stake as I believe Phosagro is undervalued and has significant potential for further growth,” Litvinenko said in a separate statement e-mailed by the company’s press office. Buying a stake of that size from the market would hurt Phosagro’s liquidity, Litvinenko said. He said he used loans to fund part of the transaction.

The family will use the proceeds to finance projects that aren’t related to Phosagro, Chief Executive Officer Andrey Guryev, the co-founder’s son, said in the e-mailed statement.

Phosagro, Europe’s largest phosphate-fertilizer maker, held an initial public offering in London in 2011 that raised a total $565 million, mostly for shares sold by the Guryevs. The family sold 9 percent of Phosagro last year, raising $467 million as the company sought to gain access to the MSCI Russia index to attract more investors.

The Guryev family controls about 60 percent of Phosagro after the transaction, according to the company’s press office.

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