Putin signs decree taking over Russian assets of two foreign firms

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President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a decree establishing temporary control of the Russian assets of two foreign energy firms, making clear Moscow could take similar action against other companies if need be.

The decree - outlining possible retaliation if Russian assets abroad are seized - made clear Moscow had already taken action against Uniper SE’s Russian division and the assets of Finland’s Fortum Oyj.

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The decree said Russia needed to take urgent measures to respond to unspecified actions from the United States and others it said were “unfriendly and contrary to international law”.

The shares in the two entities have been placed in the temporary control of Rosimushchestvo, the federal government property agency, the decree said.

The CEO of state-owned bank Bank VTB PAO had on Monday said Russia should consider taking over and managing the assets of foreign companies such as Fortum, only returning them when sanctions are lifted.

Asset sales by investors from “unfriendly” countries - as Moscow terms those that imposed sanctions against Russia following its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine - require approval from a government commission and, in some cases, the president.

In February, Uniper valued its majority stake in Russian division Unipro at a symbolic 1 euro to reflect the likely chance a planned sale to a Russian buyer would fall through. Fortum had already warned shareholders there was a risk its Russian assets could be expropriated.

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