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Russia nationalises largest winemaker, according to reports

The Russian Government has nationalised the largest winemaker in the country, Kuban Vino, according to reports.

The RBC news website reported that the winemaker, which produced 95.5 million bottles of wine in 2023, was nationalised following its links to a billionaire, Yury Antipov, who was arrested and assets seized earlier this year.

Antipov was seen by the Russian state as undermining national interests by transferring assets to countries that are “unfriendly” to Russia, following the commencement of the war in Ukraine in 2022.

He had set up the winemaker in the 1990s with his business partner Alexander Aristov.

It was one of four food and drink businesses previously owned by the agricultural firm Ariant which have been nationalised.

According to RBC, a local court in Chelyabinsk, where the business is based, ruled to transfer Ariant’s assets to the Russian state on 5 April, with data showing that the transition occured five days later.

In addition, the government seized Antipov’s steel plants in the same region, arguing that they were illegally privatised following the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s.

Ariant challenged the ruling with Russia’s Supreme Court, stating the arbitration court held a short hearing, and showed preferential treatment towards the prosecution.

The news follows Russia’s top prosecutor last month stating that the government had seized 15 defence companies valued at US$3.6bn since last year.

It also follows the former Russian arm of Carlsberg Group, Baltika Brewery, demanding RUB84.1 billion (US$950 million) for its losses from the Danish brewer.

So far, Baltika has already appealed to the Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region with a request to recover damages of 84.1 billion rubles from the Carlsberg Group, as a result of dividend payments and a ban on the use of Carlsberg brands.

It is expected the first court hearings may take place this week.

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