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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deripaska Returns His Stake in Strabag

Strabag's biggest shareholders will agree this week to take over Oleg Deripaska's 25 percent stake in Central Europe's biggest construction company.

Raiffeisen Holding and Strabag chief executive Hans-Peter Haselsteiner will gain the holding from Deripaska, who will keep one share in the company and hold a call option on his stake until December 20, 2009, Raiffeisen chief executive Erwin Hameseder said Monday at a briefing in Vienna. Deripaska will remain a "partner" of Strabag for now, Hameseder said.

"The Russian growth story has already gotten more than a few scratches in the past," said Franz Hoerl, an analyst with Erste Group in Vienna with a "hold" rating on the stock. "The exit of Deripaska is still not positive news."

Deripaska two years ago agreed to buy a stake in Strabag to help the Austrian builder expand its business in Russia, which was set to become the company's biggest single market. A falling stock price has forced him to either give up the stake or pledge more collateral on the loans that he used to purchase it.

Deutsche Bank provided the original loans for the purchase, but Strabag's other shareholders -- Raiffeisen and the family of Haselsteiner -- refinanced the loan last year.

Deripaska was granted an extension on his delinquent loan last month, when the shareholders gave him until April 3 to find a source of financing.

"We are confident that Deripaska will manage to consolidate his finances and make use of the call option," Hameseder said at the briefing. If that doesn't happen, the investors may look for another partner, he said.

Deripaska, once Russia's richest man and the majority owner of aluminum producer United Company RusAl, has lost 88 percent of his fortune in the past year, according to Forbes magazine. He has surrendered his stakes in German builder Hochtief and Canadian auto-parts maker Magna International to lenders. RusAl owns a 8.95 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel, Russia's biggest mining company, according to Bloomberg data.

He is locked in sensitive debt restructuring talks with foreign creditors over $7.4 billion loaned to aluminum giant RusAl. RusAl has until early May to reach an agreement with bankers on restructuring terms.

Strabag shares peaked in November 2007 at 54.85 euros ($72.08), about two weeks after the company's initial share sale, on prospects that growth in Russia will boost the company's profits.

The stock fell 63 percent over the past 12 months and closed at 15.73 euros in Vienna on Monday.

Hans-Peter Haselsteiner's family will hold about 32 percent of the company, while Raiffeisen and its affiliated Uniqa Versicherungen will each hold 21.5 percent, according to Hameseder.

(Bloomberg, Reuters, MT)