Authorities in Germany have launched an investigation over the transfer of shares from TUI Group’s biggest single shareholder, Alexey Mordashov.
Mr Mordashov, whose company Unifirm Ltd, held 34% of TUI AG shares, resigned from TUI’s supervisory board on 2 March after the European Union imposed sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A week ago, TUI announced in a regulatory filing that Mr Mordashov had sold 29.9% of his TUI stake to Ondero Ltd.
It’s since been reported that the controlling shareholder of Ondero Ltd is Mr Mordashov’s wife, Marina Mordashova.
In a statement issued this morning, TUI said it had been informed by Mr Mordashov on 4 March about changes in the ownership structure of Unifirm, which saw Unifirm transfer 4.1% of shares in TUI AG to Severgroup, another company controlled by Mr Mordashov.
The Guardian reported this week that, under sanctions rules, Mr Mordashov’s entire holding in TUI would have been frozen, ‘which would have meant he could not sell his shares, collect dividends, vote at board meetings or profit from the stake in any other way’.
The Guardian added: “However, TUI has confirmed that only the small portion held by Severgroup, worth £155m, was frozen. The firm said it did not know who the owners of Ondero were, or whether its 29.9% stake had been frozen under the sanctions regime.”
TUI’s statement added: “It was also disclosed that his shareholdings KN-Holding LLC and Rayglow Limited sold their shares held in Unifirm Limited to Ondero Limited on February 28, 2022. Ondero Limited holds 29.9% of the shares in TUI via Unifirm Limited.
“At the time of publication of that mandatory announcement, TUI AG was not notified of any controlling shareholders of Ondero Limited. In the notification corrected by Ondero, the company is informed that Ms Marina Mordashova was already the controlling shareholder of Ondero Limited at the time of the transfer of the shares on 28 February 2022.
“The German Federal Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection also informed TUI on Thursday that it has initiated an investigation procedure under the Foreign Trade and Payments Act against Ondero Limited regarding the effectiveness of the notified transaction.
“TUI was informed that until the conclusion of these proceedings the transaction is pendingly invalid and the voting rights of Unifirm Limited may not be exercised.”