How wealthy is Viktor Charitonin? Forbes ranks him 66th in Russia with €1.4bn in assets, but others present him as an ace hider and attribute to him a fortune of more than €5bn. The €20m that this entrepreneur, reputedly close to Roman Abramovitch and Vladimir Putin, is ready to pay to take over the 82.5% that HNA Airport Group holds in this former military airport seems to be just a drop in the bucket.
According to the DPA, which was the first to reveal the information, the Russian, who has escaped sanctions so far, has already reached an agreement with the other shareholder, the Land of Hesse, and the creditors must study his plan before making a decision. The meeting will take place on Tuesday 7 February. The German economy ministry has yet to examine whether the takeover is compatible with the various packages of sanctions against the Russians since they invaded Ukraine.
Charitonin, owner of Pharmstandard, the company that produces Sputnik (Russia's covid vaccine) is back in the game after Swift Conjoy failed to finance the takeover, which was announced last June. In Luxembourg, he was the economic beneficiary of Litsea until last October, when he sold his company to Hungarian Harmas György, head of Budapest-based New Medical Technologies.
Until the covid crisis, Frankfurt-Hahn airport was handling more than two million people a year, with a peak of 2.7m in 2012. In the last three years, it has also seen its cargo department boom, rising from 171,000 tonnes in 2019 to 259,000 in 2021.
Ironically, the Russian who lives in Moscow and has already taken control of the legendary Nürburgring circuit will not be able to come directly to the Luxembourg border region, but will have to go via Istanbul, Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.