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15 Jul, 2022 09:04

Top Russian rapper eyes Starbucks buyout

Timati was named among the future owners of the US coffeehouse's Russian franchise
Top Russian rapper eyes Starbucks buyout

Rapper Timati was named by news outlet Mash among a group of people about to take over Russian coffee houses previously operated by US giant Starbucks. Like many other Western companies, Starbucks has shut down its outlets and is planning to pull out of the Russian market.

Timati, whose real name is Timur Yunusov, has banded with restaurant tycoon Anton Pinsky and Senator Arsen Kanokov – the owner of a large commercial real estate holding – to acquire Starbucks’ assets in Russia, Mash said on Friday.

Later in the day, the purchase was confirmed by the RBC business news site, which spoke to Kanokov’s holding Sindika and a spokesman for Pinsky, who said the details of the deal published by Mash were accurate.

The Mash report described the sale as almost finalized and said that “the possibility of backtracking like Elon Musk did with Twitter is out of the question,” referring to the US billionaire’s aborted bid to buy the popular social media platform.

The outlet said the buyers will receive the rental agreements for all 130 Starbucks outlets in Russia, as well as the employment contracts of its 2,000 workers, but will have to operate them under a new brand name. It did not offer details about the terms of the purchase.

A popular performer and subject of constant celebrity gossip, 38-year-old Timati is also an accomplished businessman. His former record label, Black Star, grew into a major investment holding over 15 years.

When he split with his business partners and left the label in 2020, Timati took as his share of the assets a chain of barber shops, beauty salons, tattoo parlors, and a carwash business. He also remained involved with a premium burger restaurant brand. According to Forbes estimates, in 2021 alone, he earned over $10.4 million.

Starbucks, which opened its first coffee house in Russia in 2007, suspended all operations in March, after Russia attacked Ukraine. The US and its allies responded with an unprecedented wave of economic sanctions, and Western companies faced public pressure to cut all business ties with Russia.

A similar deal was struck by McDonald’s, which sold its Russian assets to businessman Aleksandr Govor. The restaurants began reopening last month under a new name that translates as ‘Just Tasty’. Mash joked that Starbucks may soon be known as ‘Just Coffee’ in Russia.