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26 Mar, 2013 13:00

Abramovich's losses peaked at $132mn over false arrest report

Abramovich's losses peaked at $132mn over false arrest report

Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich may sue RBC Media group, which claimed that the Chelsea football club owner was detained by the FBI in the US. The report sparked a fall in stock prices for companies co-owned by Abramovich.

The rumors – which were later denied by both the FBI's press service and Abramovich’s representatives – cost him as much as $132 million after shares in his companies dropped on Monday.

An hour after the report was published shares of Evraz, Norilsk Nickel, Raspadskaya and Highland Gold lost between 3% and 6%. Starting from 1800 Moscow time the decline was in line with the overall downstream on the Russian market and was not associated with the misinformation.

“Obviously shares of the companies co-owned by Roman Abramovich immediately reacted to the reports. Trading amounts increased sharply, and the quotations of the shares of Evraz, Norilsk Nickel went down,” Dmitry Skvortsov of GPB Asset Management told Kommersant daily.

Evraz shares, which have slid 45% over the past year, lost another 6% at one point shortly after the report, before regaining after the arrest was denied.

According to the Ria Novosti news agency, Evraz lost 6.6% at the peak of the decline. This means Abramovich’s stake lost $59 million. Evraz controls 80% of Raspadskaya, listed on the Moscow stock exchange, hence with company’s capitalization of $1.5 billion Abramovich’s 25% stake lost $9.8 million.

Abramovich’s spokesman John Mann rushed to immediately deny RBC TV’s reports on Monday. "He is in the US but he has not been arrested or detained," Mann said.

The FBI also denied having detained Abramovich. "We didn't arrest him. It's just not true," an FBI spokeswoman said in response to an unsourced report by Russia's RBK financial news portal that Abramovich had been held in the United States, Reuters said.

"Of course, we will not leave it as it is,” Mann said in a later statement adding that they expected an explanation from RBC. He also mantioned that legal action could follow, after such possibility is discussed with the tycoon.

The report saying the Roman Abramovich has been detained in the US by the FBI was released at 1700 Moscow time on RBC TV. Later RBC referred to its sources, saying that the tycoon has been released. RBC also said that Roman Abramovich was detained at the request of Britain's MI6, and has been questioned within the investigation of Boris Berezovsky’s death. This information was confirmed to the media by the formed head of Atoll security Sergey Sokolov, who referred to his own contact at MI6.

Experts consider the chances of Abramovich getting back his market loses through legals means as remote. The decline didn’t last long and by the end of Monday’s session the shares managed to recover their positions almost in full.