Insolvent airport Hahn is due to get a new owner, provided the deal is rubberstamped by creditors and the German Federal Government. Russian oligarch, Viktor Charitonin is set to become Hahn’s new boss. The 50-year-old is currently ranked 66th on the Russian Forbes list, with personal assets totaling EUR 1.29 billion (USD 1.4 bn), insiders even speak of EUR 5.5 billion. Since he successfully masks his assets, probably only he himself knows exactly how rich he really is.
However, besides the Russian tycoon, there is a second hot candidate to buy the airport. Who that is is to be announced on Tuesday (07FEB23).
Two years of uncertainty for Hahn might end
Little is publicly known about the shy investor, other than that he belongs to the wider circle of Putin friends. Yet, his name is not on any Western sanctions list. Even though Charitonin is seldom seen in public, he is no stranger to car racing enthusiasts. In 2014, the vintage car fan took over the legendary Nürburgring racetrack, located close to Hahn. This has since been operated by NR Holding AG, a company controlled by majority shareholder Charitonin. It is this enterprise that has now committed itself to taking over Hahn Airport. The agreement was prepared and submitted by insolvency administrator, Jan Markus Plathner of Frankfurt-based solicitor’s office Brinkmann & Partner, who was commissioned by the competent court to find a new proprietor.
Investor offered to pay 20 million euros
Provided the terms are finally approved, it could end a two-year period of uncertainty for the airport and its staff, which began in OCT21, when its former owner, Hainan Airlines, became insolvent.
According to media, investor NR Holding agreed to pay EUR 20 million for the airport. The money is already deposited in a so-called escrow account. NR Holding remains tight-lipped concerning the price, but basically confirmed the deal to the German Press Agency (dpa): “Yes, we have signed a contract. However, this is subject to various suspensive conditions.”
The deal is not yet done
This primarily refers to the creditors' meetings of four Hahn sister companies scheduled for next Tuesday (07FEB23), at the relevant insolvency court. “Currently, we will not deliver any further comments,” the Ring ownership company added. Even if everything speaks in favor of a change of ownership, the deal is not yet done. This is because the Federal Ministry of Economics can examine the sales terms very closely, checking whether they might violate the Foreign Trade and Payments Act. If that is the case, the entire process will be annulled.
Insolvency administrator Plathner explains that he has a second notarized purchase agreement inked by a different investor in his drawer. In the event that the sale to NR Holding does not materialize due to unfavorable conditions or state intervention this option would come into play. On which condition this contract is based, he does not reveal. This will be revealed on Tuesday (07FEB23) during the special meeting of the creditors. Said Mr. Plathner: "[There], a decision on the further course of action will be taken. [Currently] developments in the process are open."
He added to this this that during the insolvency proceedings, "the insolvency administration has implemented a whole package of reorganization measures that will make Hahn Airport more attractive again for airlines and passengers and enable business operations to continue under the insolvency proceedings and possible alternatives to be implemented."
Who is Charitonin?
Since Charitonin's takeover plans became known, the topic is heavily discussed in the German media, with a predominantly critical to warning tendency.
A far as the Russian tycoon is concerned, not much is known about him. He lives a very secluded life and runs most of his cash flows through two offshore companies in Cyprus. In Russia, he has made a fortune by investing in the pharmaceutical industry. For example, one of his companies is the largest producer of the Covid vaccine, Sputnik V, which is sold there and to China. He lives in Moscow, is married to a former Russian Olympic champion in rhythmic gymnastics, with whom he has two children. He also owns a luxury apartment in London's fashionable West End.
Soon, an airport might be added to his possessions that has a 24/7/365 operating permit, a rare asset in German aviation. Due to the sharp increase in air traffic, the airport is currently desperately seeking additional staff. Should Charitonin wish to land at Hahn, he will have to take a detour via Istanbul, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Doha. This is because flights between Russia and the EU are strictly sanctioned ever since the Russians invaded Ukraine on 24FEB22.
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