Antanta Pioglobal Sells Assets Arm

VedomostiAntanta Pioglobal representatives manning their stand at a banking expo.
Brokerage Antanta Pioglobal said Tuesday that it had sold its asset management business to Ivan Tyryshkin, a former president of the RTS stock exchange.

The sale comes as Russian banks and investment companies move to restructure, as a drying-up of loans from Western financial institutions is worsening a domestic liquidity crunch. In the most recent deal, leading Moscow-based investment bank Renaissance Capital on Monday agreed to sell a 50 percent stake to billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov for $500 million, far less than the value it put on itself last year.

Antanta Pioglobal's major shareholders closed the deal "as a result of a change in their development strategy," Denis Matafonov, chief executive of Antanta Pioglobal, said by telephone Tuesday. He added that the deal had been completed in August, before the current financial crisis worsened.

Arkady Gaidamak, an Israeli-based Russian billionaire, owned 95 percent of Antanta Piglobal before the spinoff, while businessman Yevgeny Kogan controlled the rest, a company spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Matafonov said he was not authorized by shareholders to disclose the price of the deal but insisted that the company was not spinning off its asset management arm because of the credit crunch.

"Ivan Tyryshkin's strategic plan is to set up a retail and finance holding by consolidating [the company's] NetTrader.ru and asset management businesses under a single brand," Matafonov said.

"This is the main reason the Antanta Pioglobal sold its retail business to him."

Tyryshkin, who headed the RTS from 2001 to 2003, "has the experience and know-how to propel such a business to the top tier in the Russian market," Matafonov said.

Attempts to reach Tyryshkin, who was appointed general director of online brokerage Aton-Line in 2006, were unsuccessful Tuesday.

The change in ownership would not put Antanta Pioglobal's clients at risk, as its assets are independent of the former owners, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Tyryshkin and other company executives are expected to outline the asset management unit's future plans at a news conference slated for the end of September, the statement said.

Industry players said a rash of sales and restructuring could not be avoided, especially for asset management companies that manage their own funds, as the fallout from the credit squeeze swamps the market.

"I think that the financial crisis is responsible to some extent for the sale of Antanta Pioglobal's asset management business," said Vladimir Matias, managing partner at Asset Capital Partners.

"If you have a well-run company of that kind, you would hardly think of selling it. Antanta Pioglobal is a big company that manages not only clients' funds but also funds for their own managers."

The problem now facing asset management companies is not just a shortage of liquidity but a systemic financial crisis that threatens to sweep many players out of the market, Matias said.

Antanta Capital Group, a privately held company, was established in 2003 by former managers of CentreInvest. Antanta in 2006 acquired Pioglobal Asset Management, which was set up in 1995 by the American Pioneer Group.

Antanta Pioglobal includes Antanta Capital, an investment company, online brokerage NetTrader.ru and the Net City chain of Internet cafes.