Roman Abramovich invested in deep secrecy

The billionaire has invested more than $60 million in European startups.
According to documents reviewed by Forbes USA, thanks to cooperation with the London-based venture capital firm Target Global, the Russian businessman invested $63 million in a number of European startups. Judging by the documents, in 2015-2021, Abramovich was a co-investor and limited partner for an investment fund that raised capital more than $3.2 billion and invested in at least 15 European IT “unicorns”, including fintech giant Revolut and car sales platform Cazoo. In March 2022, Great Britain imposed sanctions against Abramovich after the start of a “special operation”* of Russia in Ukraine.

The investment, which has not previously been reported, appears in leaked files from Meritservus, an offshore service company based in Cyprus. An anonymous source shared the documents with several companies, including Forbes USA. They reveal details of Abramovich’s relationship with Target Global, which was founded by the son of another sanctioned businessman, Alexander Frolov.

Leaked data shows that in 2018, the billionaire committed $25 million as an “anchor” limited partner in one of the first funds called Target Global Mobility 2.0, according to an internal white paper. The amount written accounted for approximately one-fifth of total assets of $132 million, according to investment database Preqin.

In 2019, Abramovich’s money went to finance the European scooter sharing company Circ (in 2020, it was acquired by the American Bird, which recently declared bankruptcy), and in 2015, the German giant selling used cars Auto1. Among other things, the leak states that another Abramovich shell company called Ervington was a shareholder in Auto1 and that it issued a proxy to Target Global to vote on ongoing corporate issues such as remuneration for new senior executives.

In Auto1, investments from Target Global and Ervington confirm and note that the capital was received several years before the sanctions were imposed.

Auto1 shares began trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange with a total capitalization of $2.2 billion in February 2021 - then the debut became perhaps the most ambitious success story among German startups in recent years. However, Abramovich's share of the business, which he owned through Target Global and Ervington, was not disclosed to investors in the then January exchange brochure (Auto1 claims that, according to German law, the names of investors whose share is less than 3% are not required to be indicated in exchange materials) . However, one leaked investor document from January 2021 listed Ervington Investment Trust as a shareholder. In September that year, Abramovich sold his stake in Auto1 to a special purpose subsidiary of Target Global in a private deal, Ervington records show.

According to leaked files, the Russian oligarch and his holdings also provided tens of millions of dollars in loans to specialized units of Target Global to indirectly acquire stakes in startups. For example, under the terms of contracts between Target Global and Norma, from 2020 to 2021, Abramovich issued several loans to Target Global in the amount of $23.5 million for investments in the menstrual cycle tracking service Flo, headquartered in London and with an audience of more than 300 million users. In May 2017, he gave $10 million to a special division of Helium to purchase a stake in Berlin-based food delivery startup Delivery Hero, which today trades on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange with a capitalization of $7.1 billion. Delivery Hero says that at the time of the IPO in In 2017, there were no sanctions against its shareholders. Flo and Bird did not respond to requests for comment.