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HomeBusinessRussian-backed funding fund tied to U.S. company consulting agency

Russian-backed funding fund tied to U.S. company consulting agency


An funding fund backed by Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union following the invasion of Ukraine has ties to Teneo, an influential corporate-advisory agency based mostly in the USA.

The general public relations and technique large was employed in 2020 by LetterOne, a non-public fairness agency based mostly out of Luxembourg that counts sanctioned billionaires Mikhail Fridman, who’s a local of Ukraine, and Petr Aven amongst its cofounders. The contract, which was considered by CNBC, seems to have paid Teneo greater than $3.6 million to line up interviews and seek the advice of on media technique within the U.S.

LetterOne was based by Fridman, Aven, Alexei Kuzmichev, Andrei Kosogov and German Khan — all of whom are a number of the wealthiest enterprise leaders based mostly in Russia. All 5 founders have been on LetterOne’s board, with Fridman because the chairman, in response to knowledge from PitchBook reviewed by CNBC. The executives launched the agency in 2013 after establishing Alfa Group, one of many largest conglomerates in Russia.

Fridman and Aven have been accused by the EU of getting ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claims that have been denied in an emailed assertion to CNBC. The assertion didn’t reply any of CNBC’s questions on LetterOne’s work with Teneo or how the funding fund is planning to maneuver forward now that two of its founders have been sanctioned. Fridman’s financial institution, Alfa Financial institution, has additionally been sanctioned by the USA. He is known as for an finish to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

After CNBC requested a LetterOne consultant on Monday about their enterprise, together with their relationship with Teneo, a number of pages of their web site, together with the “our folks” part, seem to have been wiped as of Tuesday morning. An error message now seems on that part which listed the founders and executives on the agency. The LetterOne board part continues to be energetic, nevertheless it not reveals Fridman and Aven as members of the board.

Joshua Hardie, a spokesman for LetterOne, stated Fridman and Aven resigned from the board on Tuesday. CNBC first contacted the non-public fairness agency on Monday.

Although emails to Teneo weren’t returned, Kathleen Lacey, an organization senior managing director who was listed in a doc as working the LetterOne account, informed CNBC in a quick cellphone name on Monday that they have been not certainly one of her purchasers and believed her agency wasn’t representing them anymore.

The Division of Justice’s FARA Unit, which displays U.S. lobbying and consulting work for overseas representatives, informed CNBC on Tuesday that it believes the contract between Teneo and LetterOne “stays energetic.”

LetterOne has a number of hyperlinks to Teneo, which was based by two Democratic consultants who labored for former Presidents Invoice Clinton, Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The non-public fairness agency has been concerned in nearly a dozen offers estimated to be value over $1 billion, in response to PitchBook. Uber, for instance, noticed a $200 million investment from LetterOne in 2016.

Teneo has since grown right into a consulting large, with previous purchasers together with Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola. Overseas purchasers have included Neom, an organization backed the juggernaut Public Funding Fund with the objective of making a megacity in Saudi Arabia, and a basis led by an Emirati princess.

Their listed senior advisors is a who’s who of political and enterprise leaders together with former Republican Home Speaker Paul Ryan, former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and Harvey Pitt, a former chairman of the Securities and Change Fee.

Doug Band, who was as soon as certainly one of Invoice Clinton’s closest aides, based Teneo with Declan Kelly and Paul Keary. Kelly labored because the particular envoy to Northern Eire within the Obama administration and helped Hillary Clinton run for president in 2008. Band and Kelly have since left the agency, with the latter resigning from being Teneo’s CEO after reviews of him drunk and appearing inappropriately at an occasion organized by the International Citizen nonprofit. Keary turned the CEO after Kelly’s resignation.

A contract between Teneo and LetterOne reviewed by CNBC reveals that the consulting agency was employed in 2020 for a retainer of $150,000 per 30 days to advise the fund on their media technique. Teneo, in response to the contract, was anticipated to “present strategic counsel and stakeholder engagement recommendation to the corporate and its board members (together with, with out limitation, scheduling media interviews, helping with media briefings, coordinating stakeholder engagements and associated actions).”

Below the contract, LetterOne was on observe to pay Teneo greater than $3.6 million since September 2020. There have been not less than 4 Teneo representatives who labored the account, in response to different paperwork filed to the DOJ.

Additional paperwork present that by way of final 12 months, Teneo took credit score for making an attempt to arrange interviews for LetterOne leaders with producers and tv anchors, together with these at CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Enterprise. A doc reveals {that a} Bloomberg consultant was contacted nearly a dozen occasions to see whether or not LetterOne might sponsor certainly one of their Bloomberg Make investments occasions.

There are different ties between Teneo and LetterOne.

LetterOne’s nonexecutive chairman is Evan Davies, a British businessman who was as soon as the U.Okay. minister of state for commerce, funding and small enterprise. He is additionally a senior advisor at Teneo.

VEON, a telecommunications firm working in Russia and Ukraine is listed on LetterOne’s web site as certainly one of its energetic investments. Ursula Burns was chairman of the VEON board for nearly three years earlier than stepping down in 2020. She later turned the chairwoman of Teneo.

In the meantime, VEON introduced on Tuesday that Mikhail Fridman resigned from their board.



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