AST Group by disgraced businessman Telman Ismailov lost the right to build one of the largest hotel complexes in Sochi “Renove” of Viktor Vekselberg. The billionaire, who has not participated in the construction of Olympic site yet, has to put up $ 540 million. Reshuffle of investors is due to the fact that after the scandal with the Cherkizovsky market Mr. Ismailov might have problems with funding the project.
Almost two years ago Telman Ismailov had to leave for Turkey after finding a counterfeit of $ 2 billion on the Cherkizovsky market and the subsequent demolition of commercial pavilions. Last spring, it became known that the businessman is ready to build in the Imereti Valley in Sochi a complex of two hotels on five thousand rooms for the 2014 Olympics in order to return to Russia. But in late December, when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made adjustments to the program of Olympic construction, AST was no longer on the list of investors. Instead of the Group by Telman Ismailov the complex is to be built by OOO "Top Project" and the number of rooms was reduced to 3.6 thousand rooms. A source said that the AST had ceded the right of development to a company controlled by the group “Renova” by Viktor Vekselberg. According to the Uniform State Register on January 2010, "Top Project" belongs to an offshore company "Blosskrown Investments, but address and phone numbers listed in the database coincide with the contacts of “Renova Stroygroup" (included in ZAO “Renova”). Yesterday it was not possible to connect with the AST. The representative of Renova, Andrey Shtorkh, declined to comment on. Information about AST had ceded the right to build hotels in Sochi to the structure of “Renova”, was confirmed by a source of Kommersant, close to the group of Mr. Vekselberg, and a representative of the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak (in charge of Olympic construction), Ilya Dzhus. According to estimates by General Director of the Azimut Hotels Company, Alexander Gendelsman, the construction of two hotels in Sochi with 3.6 thousand rooms will cost at least $ 540 million and investment payback period could reach ten years. "It would be difficult for the former owner of the Cherkizovsky market to quickly attract loans on such a huge sum because of his controversial reputation," one of the federal officials explains the reshuffle of investors. According to him, the second phase of Olympic preparations has started in Sochi, implying a forced construction of hotels. "In this situation there is no time to conduct auctions to select investors, the one who is able to build quickly and efficiently shall be appointed," a source of Kommersant said. In late December, Prime Minister through his amendments to the program of Olympic construction also increased by one third, up to 15.535 thousand rooms, the total number of hotels that will accommodate athletes and guests of the Winter Games in 2014. "Thus, we have fulfilled all the requirements of the International Olympic Committee to improve the hotel infrastructure in Sochi," one of the officials in charge of Olympic construction stated. The fortune of Viktor Vekselberg, who owns 12.5% of TNK-BP, 6.92% UC Rusal and other assets, was estimated at $ 6.4 billion by Forbes in 2010. There are other billionaires investing in Sochi: so the "Interros" by Vladimir Potanin will invest more than $ 2 billion in construction in Sochi Olympic sports venues and university, the owner of Basic Element, Oleg Deripaska is going to invest about the same amount in the creation of the resort in the Imereti Valley and infrastructures. Participation of Mr Vekselberg in Sochi construction is not the only politically important project by him. In March 2010, he became coordinator of the Russian part of the project on construction of innovation centers in Skolkovo - Russia's equivalent of Silicon Valley in the U.S..