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Orient Express main owner ordered to sell 9.99% stake to minority shareholder

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Orient Express main owner ordered to sell 9.99% stake to minority shareholder

A Russian arbitration court instructed Public Stock Co. Orient Express Bank's majority shareholder Baring Vostok Capital Partners Ltd. to sell a 9.99% stake in the lender to its minority shareholder Finvision, news agency Prime reported May 17.

Finvision, which is controlled by Russian businessman Artem Avetisyan, launched the arbitration proceedings in March to enforce a 2016 agreement that gave it a call option to acquire the 9.99% stake in Orient Express from Evison Holdings, through which Baring Vostok owns its 51.6% stake in Orient Express. The court ruled in favor of Finvision, noting that the transaction should take place within five calendar days from when the ruling comes into force, Prime noted.

Baring Vostok said in a May 17 statement it plans to appeal the court's decision, saying the ruling "has caused serious damage to the reputation of Russia's system of arbitration justice."

The purchase of the 9.99% stake from Baring Vostok would give Artem Avetisyan and his partners control of the bank, with their joint holding in the lender exceeding 50%, Vedomosti said.

Baring Vostok and Avetisyan have been involved in a corporate battle over control of Orient Express Bank for a while, with the dispute resulting in the February arrest of Baring Vostok founder Michael Calvey and several other executives over the alleged embezzlement of 2.5 billion Russian rubles from the bank. Calvey, who denies any wrongdoing, was released from pretrial detention in April and is currently under house arrest.

As of May 16, US$1 was equivalent to 64.43 Russian rubles.