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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Indian billionaire buys Russia-linked London mansion for $145 million

Industrialist Ravi Ruia, whose Essar Group sold a refinery to Rosneft in 2017, has bought property owned by a Russian billionaire

Tycoon Ravi Ruia, the vice chairman and co-founder of Indian conglomerate Essar Group, bought a London mansion reportedly linked to Andrey Goncharenko, a Russian property investor and former deputy CEO of Gazprom Invest Yug, for $145 million.

The deal, which was sealed by British legal firm Withers for the Ruia family and first reported by the Financial Times, is one of the UK capital’s biggest residential real estate transactions in recent years. According to the report, the mansion was sold via the property’s holding company incorporated in Gibraltar, a tax haven widely used for big-ticket UK real estate deals.

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The property, known as Hanover Lodge and which overlooks Regent’s Park at 150 Park Road in London, was earlier owned by Conservative Party member Rajkumar Bagri, who is of Indian origin. Goncharenko owned the property until two years ago and had purchased its outstanding lease in 2012 from Bagri for $154.27 million, the report said.

A spokesperson for the Ruia family office, which was advised on the deal by the law firm Withers, told the newspaper that the property is “under construction and became available at a price which makes it an attractive investment for the family office.”

Brothers Ravi and Shashi Ruia co-founded Essar Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates with interests in energy, infrastructure, logistics, metals, and mining in 1969. In 2017, the conglomerate sold its refining arm, Essar Oil, to a consortium led by Russian oil major Rosneft for $12.9 billion, in a bid to reduce its debt. The deal, which Essar then termed as the largest foreign direct investment in India, was first announced on the sidelines of the 8th BRICS summit in Goa in 2016.

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High-profile broker Knight Frank reported that the Covid-19 pandemic boosted residential property demand from ultra-rich individuals with a net worth of $30 million or more, with around 17% purchasing homes in 2022. The UK is among several “favored destinations for second home purchases,” along with the US, Australia, Spain, and France.

However, Britain’s luxury property market, one the most overheated in the world, continues to be shrouded in secrecy, as the latest deal shows. The UK has sought to bring transparency to high-value property transactions through a register for overseas entities launched last year. The regulation, which requires overseas companies to declare potential owners or face trial, has not met with runaway success so far, as luxury homes continue to be purchased without full public disclosure. Real estate brokerage firm Hamptons International has reported that a record number of the priciest properties in London were sold off-market between October and December last year.