Three Lenta shareholders have agreed to buy out Svoboda

Three Lenta shareholders have agreed to buy out Svoboda

Over a year of animosity between the owners of Russian grocery retailer Lenta is set to end, with three of the shareholders buying out the fourth investor.

TPG Capital, VTB Capital and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have announced an agreement to acquire the Svoboda Corporation's shareholding in the chain.

The deal, which the EBRD confirmed is worth US$1.14bn, will mean that Luna, a partnership between private-equity firms TPG Capital and VTB Capital, will become the controlling shareholder.

The EBRD said today (10 August) that it plans to invest EUR170m in the deal. It currently holds an 11% stake in the retailer, and once it completes the announced deal, Lenta will be come "one of the largest equity investments in the EBRD's history".

Before the sale, Svoboda held a 40% stake in the company, while Luna held 30%, and the EBRD had 11%, with the remainder held by minority shareholders. The EBRD confirmed that the new stakeholders' shareholdings will not be disclosed before the transaction is completed.

The development follows almost a year of animosity between the retailer's two major shareholders, Luna and Svoboda, as the two groups disputed who should be CEO of the company.

A statement released by TPG Capital said Svoboda would exit the business in full and all of its representatives will step down from the board.

The deal remains conditional on regulatory clearance from Russia's anti-monopoly watchdog, but it is expected that the deal will close in one month.

Former X5 Retail Group CEO Lev Khasis allegedly showed an interest in acquiring the chain. Lenta shareholder Dmitry Kostygin told just-food in April that Khasis had put forward a $2.4bn offer for the chain.

The company opened its first stores in 1993 and operates some 39 stores across the country.