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Putin Halts Danone Russia Seizure, Clearing Way for Sale

(Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin halted the seizure of the local Russian subsidiary of French yogurt maker Danone SA, clearing the way for a potential sale to a firm favored by the Kremlin.

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The presidential order, placed on the government portal, reverses a decision made under a July decree enabling the transfer of assets to the temporary management of a Russian government unit.

Last month the Financial Times reported that Danone plans to sell its Russian business to dairy company Vamin Tatarstan, owned by investor Mintimer Mingazov. Mingazov is part of the management team linked to a nephew of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin loyalist.

Last July Russia seized control of the local subsidiaries of Danone and Denmark’s Carlsberg A/S.

Putin signed a decree in April 2023 allowing for temporary state control over the assets of companies or individuals from unfriendly states — which include the US and its allies — in response to similar moves, or the threat of them, by those countries.

Danone said it had been informed of the decision, but wouldn’t comment further. “Since the announcement, our focus was to ensure the safety of our people while protecting Danone’s assets and rights,” the company said.

Danone shares traded 0.5% lower early Thursday in Paris. They’ve risen 10% over the past 12 months.

(Updates with shares. An earlier version corrected the spelling of Chechen leader’s name.)

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