Lebedev to Buy Tour Operator

The National Reserve Corporation, controlled by billionaire Alexander Lebedev, has agreed to purchase 76 percent of Germany's sixth-largest tour operator, Oeger Group, his spokesman said Monday.

The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Lebedev spokesman Alexander Artyumov said he could not comment on the matter, although Lebedev told Vedomosti that it was in the tens of millions of euros.

Artyumov said the deal included an option to buy the remaining 24 percent within the "next few years."

"The NRC and Oeger have been working together for about a year, and this seemed like the logical next step, especially since Russians are beginning to travel abroad in increasingly larger numbers," Artyumov said.

Lebedev, whose fortune is estimated by Forbes' Russia edition at $3.1 billion, is following in the footsteps of fellow Russian billionaire and Severstal owner Alexei Mordashov, who has been raising his stake in Germany-based TUI, Europe's largest tour operator.

"Oeger's experience in Germany will help us to improve the services that we provide for our Russian clients," Artyumov said. "Oeger is a famous company with proven expertise — it will stimulate the development of the Russian tourism industry."

The deal is expected to be completed this fall after approval from German anti-monopoly authorities, he said.