The listed airport operator has not yet sold the minority stake it held in the operating company of St. Petersburg-Pulkovo Airport. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting ahead of himself because he has ordered the move in.
In concrete terms, this means that Fraport AG is to be expropriated. According to Russian media, Putin has already signed and initiated a corresponding decree. The politician justifies the approach by saying, among other things, that Fraport is based in an “unfriendly state” and that there have been “unfriendly actions by some foreign states and international organizations.”
The exact meaning is still unclear for Fraport, as the company initially stated that the information still had to be verified. At the same time, it is pointed out that participation has been “suspended” since the beginning of the war of aggression against Ukraine. It is still unclear what this means for the future.
Fraport AG has repeatedly found itself in the crossfire of criticism from the German media because they did not immediately withdraw from Russia. But the reason behind this is not really “unwill”, but rather that they were involved in long-term contracts. It can be assumed that an immediate exit could potentially have triggered claims for damages from Russia. Because of the sanctions, the circle of possible buyers would also be very small.
It is not an isolated case that the Russian government is placing companies under receivership. This does not necessarily have to be the property or interests of companies based in “unfriendly states”. It has also happened that owners were expropriated because they wanted to close plants and/or cut jobs for economic reasons.
As for Pulkovo Airport, it was previously held through a holding company based in Cyprus. The Russian government is withdrawing all of their shares and setting up a new investment company under state management. The Russian partners should keep their shares, but the foreign ones should not. Their shares will be confiscated for the benefit of the Russian state.