By John Helmer, Moscow
A website property sales agency, calling itself “specialized in urgent and forced sales of Luxury Properties, Super Cars & Yachts”, is offering Suleiman Kerimov’s holiday residence at Medy Roc, at Cap d’Antibes on the French coast. The sale notice is dated October 20, last week. A number of notable Russian-owned properties on the Cote d’Azur have been sold since the crash of 2008, but this is the first oligarch-sized disposal.
The property agency has this to say about the transaction initiative:
|Kerimov donated €1 million to the non-profit organisation Pinocchio. The non-profit organisation, which works with children suffering from burns, has an annual budget of between €250,000-300,000. In 2007, Kerimov founded The Suleiman Kerimov Foundation with the vision to help lives by investing in initiatives that strengthen communities and help those in need. The foundation supports projects all over the world, with particular emphasis on Russia and Russian communities. Between its 2007 and 2009, the foundation made donations totaling over $164 million in support of worthwhile projects and causes.
On December 17, 2010, the press reported that Kerimov will spend $100 million on the construction of an advanced comprehensive school west of Moscow “for educating forward-minded children from different social groups.” The school will include a modern sports complex with a swimming pool, a skating-rink, a giant dance floor, as well as a residential area for gifted children from the provinces. The Suleiman Kerimov Foundation has directed over $60 million to charitable causes.
There is no price-tag on the sale posting by Agent4Stars, but a source who recently visited claims Kerimov is asking €20 million.
Asked to confirm that the website posting is a genuine sale offer, Stefan Katafai, the president of the agency, said from his Spanish office: “Is the property for sale? That depends on who is asking. Are you a lawyer?” He requested an email for an identity and authentication check. That sent, he was asked to say whether the Kerimov house is a forced sale. He did not respond.
Kerimov’s office telephone at the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, rang without answer in mid-morning. His Moscow spokesman, Alexei Krasovsky, did not reply to a fax request for details of the asset sale. Neither did Kerimov’s Moscow holding, Nafta-Moskva.
Residential property assets held for the personal use or private fortune of oligarchs came under pressure in late 2008 and during 2009, when their flow of cash was sharply curtailed and margin calls were issued by international banks against mortgaged assets, whose market values were plummeting at the time. Manhattan real estate owned by Oleg Deripaska, it was reported by a well-known international sleuth, was one of the targets, according to uncorroborated reports. Apart from the redistribution of assets due to divorce, no evidence has been confirmed of the depletion of an oligarch fortune to the point of personal assets being sold to meet debts.
Kerimov’s current Russian business interests include stakes in Uralkali (potash), Polyus Gold, and PIK (real estate).
A local source in Antibes reports there have been problems between Kerimov and other Russians in the neighbourhood, German neighbours who include the Quandt family (the BMW control shareholder), and the municipal council over terms of property use, mooring, development and public access rights. This in turn has exposed uncertainties over land title, leasehold specifications, and ordinary bathers’ access to the sea along the rocky shore line which has been restricted, even though the land is not privately owned. A campaign by the local Communist Party deputy on the Antibes council, Gerard Piel, announced victory this August in the form of an edict by the prefecture of Alpes-Maritime, dismantling the access barriers .