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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MMM-Invest Heads For Foreign Markets

MMM-Invest, one of Russia's biggest investment funds, announced Tuesday a 56 percent dividend for 1994 and plans to expand its activities abroad.

Sergei Taranov, a spokesman for the MMM group, said MMM-Invest had paid 560 rubles in annual dividends per 1,000-ruble (29-cent) share to its 2.4 million shareholders.

The parent MMM group became notorious after its president, Sergei Mavrodi, was detained for tax evasion, and the MMM joint-stock company, a pyramid investment scheme, stopped redeeming its shares, leaving millions of Russians holding worthless pieces of paper having invested billions of rubles.

Mavrodi, now a State Duma deputy, has also announced plans to expand the joint-stock company's operations to foreign countries, including Great Britain, Germany and the United States.

However, Taranov stressed that MMM joint-stock company and MMM-Invest were different companies. He said Mavrodi had only 10 shares in MMM-Invest, and that the MMM group owned a mere 0.2 percent of the 102 million MMM-Invest shares.

Taranov said MMM-Invest, set up two years ago with charter capital of 102 billion rubles, increased its assets to $74 million and made a profit of 56 billion rubles in 1994.

Investors bought 102 million MMM-Invest shares for vouchers that were distributed in 1992 to each Russian citizen under the voucher privatization program. According to Taranov, a voucher bought 10 MMM-Invest shares.

Experts said MMM-Invest shares have long since disappeared from the stock market.

Among its major investments in privatized companies, MMM-Invest claims to own a 24.4 percent stake in the Moscow Jewelry Plant, an 18.5 percent share in the Tomsk Oil Refinery, and a 19.4 percent share in the department store Beryozka in Luzhniki.

In a recent issue of the International Herald Tribune, MMM-Invest placed a half-page ad inviting Western companies "to participate in the privatization process in Russia" and offering "business consulting services and joint operations in securities in the Russian market."

Taranov said he had not heard about the ad, but he suggested that MMM's "Western partners" had placed it.

"Our partners in the West are major legal firms with solid and unquestionable reputations," Taranov said. "They are engaged in looking for the best legal ways for us to work abroad. Maybe those ways are yet unknown in the West."

He said MMM-Invest was mainly looking at the British market for opportunities.