February 8, 2023

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Roman Abramovich-owned UK telecoms group to be sold for £1 to tech entrepreneurs

2 min read

British telecoms group Truphone, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and his associates, is being bought for £1 by two European tech entrepreneurs.

Truphone appointed restructuring specialist FRP Advisory to conduct a sale of the assets of the company after sanctions imposed on the Russian billionaire by UK and European authorities threw the group’s future into doubt.

The company was valued at £410mn in 2020 and has received more than £300mn in investment from Abramovich and his two Russian business partners Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov.

Hakan Koç, a German businessman who co-founded the used car company Auto1, and his business associate Pyrros Koussios, a former telecoms executive and private equity investor, will own 90 per cent and 10 per cent of the company, respectively.

The fire sale gives an early indication of the fate that is likely to befall companies that have become enmeshed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Companies across the west that had imposed sanctions on individuals on their board, or among their owners and investors, have battled a litany of problems since the invasion in February, including a loss of customers, difficulty accessing finance and damage to their public reputations.

Abramovich has been forced to sell Premier League football club Chelsea after being hit by sanctions, with a £4.25bn deal agreed last month.

Truphone, in which Abramovich holds a 23 per cent stake and Abramov and Frolov most of the rest, has recorded 15 consecutive years of losses, including £16mn in 2020.

The telecoms group sells contracts to corporate customers including banks that want a secure network and to avoid roaming charges for employees. It also provides embedded sims to a range of technology companies, including Apple.

Koç listed Auto1, formerly backed by the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, on the public market in Germany last year, raising €1.8bn and valuing the company at €10bn.

Though Auto1 previously received funding…

2022-06-03 16:00:45

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