Billionaire Usmanov Moves Assets to Russia on Putin’s Call

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Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s USM Holdings Ltd. said it handed controlling stakes in its Russian companies to local units as President Vladimir Putin urges the so-called de-offshorization of the economy.

The controlling stakes in wireless operator OAO MegaFon and iron-ore producer Metalloinvest Holding Co, previously owned by overseas units, are now held by Russia-registered OOO AF Telekom and OOO USM Metalloinvest respectively, USM said in an e-mailed statement.

Putin, who returned to the Kremlin in 2012 for a third term, has championed the “de-offshorization” of the economy, backing efforts to repatriate as much as $1 trillion in capital held by companies and high ranking officials abroad. Illicit capital outflows related to Russia’s shadow economy may have been as much as $211.5 billion from 1994 to 2011, according to Global Financial Integrity, a group that studies financial flows.

Both companies have strategic importance for the Russian economy, USM said. It completed the transaction because de-offshorization also involves new tax rules that are applied to profits of overseas-controlled companies.

As of last year, all of Russia’s 20 richest people controlled a portion of their fortune through holding companies registered outside of their home country, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Vladimir Litvinenko, who was Putin’s campaign manager during presidential elections in St. Petersburg, transferred 4.81 percent of fertilizer maker OAO PhosAgro from an overseas trust, raising his direct stake to 14.54 percent, the company said said today. Litvinenko is also rector of the St. Petersburg Mining University, where Putin got a doctorate in 1997.