Russia's London-based billionaire Roman Abramovich is considering selling his stake in the Chelsea football club, the Sunday Times and Vedomosti said. Reportedly, the club has turned to Raine Group investment bank to prepare the sale.
Abramovich bought the club in 2013 for £140mn, after which the club has topped the Premier League five times and won the UEFA Champions League. The oligarch's UK investor visa is currently under scrutiny amid worsened UK-Russia relations. In response Abramovich sought and gained an Israeli passport.
In the meantime another Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov had to give up his previous plans for consolidating control in another Premier League football club Arsenal. Reportedly in May Usmanov, who holds 30% in the club, was trying to secure the 67% stake of US sports mogul Stan Kroenke for $1.3bn. But this month media reported that Kroenke will become the sole owner of the club.
In June Abramovich became an Israeli citizen, after which he had to cut the cut his 24% stake in Russia's main TV channel, the First Channel. Amid increased tensions with the West since 2014, Russia has capped foreign ownership in media outlets at 20%, which has reshaped the domestic media landscape.
Abramovich had to sell 4% of his stake in the TV channel to cut his stake to 20%, as the new regulations also cover people with dual citizenship. One of the possible buyers is the National Media Group. The state controls 51% in the First Channel, with the National Media Group holding another 25%.