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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deripaska Buys Farms in South

Aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska is returning to his roots, buying up a number of collective farms in the region where he spent his childhood.

Deripaska has created an agricultural holding in the Ust-Labinsky area of the fertile Krasnodar region, where he grew up while living with his mother's parents.

The head of the regional collective farm committee, Ivan Matviyenko, said Deripaska's new venture, Yugagrobiznes, started buying up collective farms in the area late last year and already owns 49 percent of the local grain elevator and six of 15 farms.

Matviyenko said Yugagrobiznes has already invested substantially in the area and has acquired 40 Don harvesters for 1.5 million rubles ($48,000) each.

Deripaska's Base Element, a holding company that controls half of Russian Aluminum and sizeable stakes in several other companies, confirmed that Yugagrobiznes is part of the holding.

Yugagrobiznes public relations director Viktor Ivashenko would not say how much money the company is investing in the agrarian sector of the region, citing the fact that Deripaska himself was personally overseeing the project.

However, there are signs that Deripaska is taking the sector seriously and has far-reaching plans. "A representative of Base Element told me that they had been instructed by Deripaska to buy up all the farms in the area, and if the project is successful, to spread the holding across the whole of the Krasnodar region," Matviyenko said.

The homestead where Deripaska grew up will get special treatment and a mini-farm using all the latest technologies will be created there, he said.

Ivashenko confirmed this, saying the farm was declared unproductive in the 1970s and is now an empty field.