Russia’s Potanin snaps up third finance deal amid Ukraine turmoil

Interros President Vladimir Potanin answers journalists’ questions during the Reuters Russia Investment Summit in Moscow September 27, 2012. REUTERS/Alexey Petrov

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LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) – Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin’s Interros group said on Monday it had bought United Card Services, part of Global Payments Inc (GPN.N), its third deal in three weeks as it snaps up financial assets from buyers exiting the Russian market.

Global Payments confirmed it was exiting its Russian business as it released its first quarter results on Monday. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Potanin, 61, is the head of mining giant Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) (GMKN.MM), which has benefited from high metals prices in recent months. He is Russia’s second-richest man with a fortune of $17.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

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The billionaire has moved fast to take advantage of opportunities thrown up by hurried asset sales since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, triggering sweeping western sanctions and prompting hundreds of international businesses to withdraw.

On April 11, French bank Societe Generale said it would quit Russia and take a 3 billion euro ($3.3 billion) income hit from selling its Rosbank unit to Interros.

Last week, Interros bought a 35% stake in TCS Group Holding from the group’s founder, businessman Oleg Tinkov, for an undisclosed sum.

Tinkov told the New York Times that deal was a “fire sale” forced on him by the Kremlin after he condemned what he called Russia’s “crazy war” in Ukraine, now nearing the end of its 10th week.

In a news release, Interros said the latest deal was aimed at developing its banking business, and it would focus on boosting UCS’s services for small and medium-sized customers.

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Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; editing by John Stonestreet

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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