An funding fund backed by Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union after the invasion of Ukraine belongs to Teneo, an influential corporate-advisory agency based mostly within the United States.
The public relations and technique big was employed in 2020 by LetterOne, a non-public fairness agency based mostly out of Luxembourg, which counts sanctioned billionaire Mikhail Fridman, a local of Ukraine, and Petr Aven as its co-founders. . The contract, which was noticed by CNBC, has paid Teneo greater than $3.6 million to interview and seek the advice of on media technique within the US.
LaterOne was based by Fridman, Aven, Alexey Kuzmichev, Andrei Kosogov and German Khan – all of whom are a number of the wealthiest enterprise leaders based mostly in Russia. All 5 founders are on the board of LetterOne, of which Friedman is chairman, in keeping with knowledge from PitchBook reviewed by CNBC. The executives launched the agency in 2013 after founding the Alpha Group, one of many largest conglomerates in Russia.
Friedman and Aven have been accused by the European Union of getting ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a declare that was denied in an emailed assertion to CNBC. The assertion didn’t reply to any questions from CNBC on whether or not LetterOne’s working with Teneo or whether or not the funding fund now plans to maneuver ahead has authorised its two founders. Friedman’s financial institution, Alfa Bank, can also be sanctioned by the United States. He known as for an finish to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
After CNBC requested a LetterOne consultant on Monday about their enterprise, together with their relationship with Teneo, a number of pages of their web site, together with the “Our People” part, had been wiped as of Tuesday morning. An error message now seems on the part that listed the founders and executives of the agency. The LetterOne Board part continues to be energetic, but it surely not reveals Friedman and Aven as board members.
LetterOne spokesman Joshua Hardy mentioned Friedman and Aven resigned from the board on Tuesday. CNBC first contacted the non-public fairness agency on Monday.
Although emails to Teneo weren’t returned, Kathleen Lacey, a senior managing director of an organization listed within the LetterOne account’s working doc, informed CNBC in a quick cellphone name on Monday that she was not one in every of her clients. Were not one and believed his agency was not representing him.
The Justice Department’s FARA unit, which oversees US lobbying and consulting work for international representatives, informed CNBC on Tuesday that it believes the contract between Teneo and LetterOne “remains active.”
LetterOne has a number of hyperlinks to Teneo, which was based by two Democratic advisers who labored for former Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to Pitchbook, the non-public fairness agency has been concerned in practically a dozen offers, valued at greater than $1 billion. For instance, Uber noticed $200 million investment From LetterOne in 2016.
Tenno has grown right into a consulting firm, with earlier purchasers together with Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola. Foreign clients embrace neomoAn organization backed the Juggernaut Public Investment Fund with the objective of constructing a megacity in Saudi Arabia, and a basis led by an Emirati princess.
His listed senior advisers are political and enterprise leaders together with former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey Pitt.
Doug Band, as soon as one in every of Bill Clinton’s closest associates, based Teneo with Declan Kelly and Paul Carey. Kelly served as Northern Ireland’s particular envoy to the Obama administration and helped Hillary Clinton run for president in 2008. The band and Kelly later left the agency. resigned From being CEO of Teneo after reviews of drunk and performing inappropriately at an occasion organized by the Global Citizen nonprofit. Kerry grew to become CEO after Kelly’s resignation.
A contract between Teneo and LetterOne, reviewed by CNBC, reveals that the consulting agency was employed for a retainer of $150,000 a month in 2020 to advise the fund on their media technique. According to the contract, Teneo was anticipated to “provide strategic advisory and stakeholder engagement advice to the Company and its board members (including, without limitation, scheduling media interviews, assisting with media briefings, engaging stakeholder engagements, etc.) and coordinating related activities).
Under the contract, LetterOne was on track to pay Tenno more than $3.6 million from September 2020. According to other documents filed to the DOJ, there were at least four Teneo representatives working on the account.
Further documents show that during the past year, Tenno took credit for attempting to set up interviews for LetterOne leaders with producers and television anchors including CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business. One document shows that a Bloomberg representative was contacted about a dozen times to see if LetterOne could sponsor one of their Bloomberg investment programs.
There are other relationships between Teneo and LetterOne.
LetterOne’s non-executive chairman is Evan Davies, a British businessman who was once Britain’s Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Small Business. He is also a Senior Advisor at Teneo.
VEON, a telecommunications company operating in Russia and Ukraine, is listed on LetterOne’s website as one of its active investments. Ursula Burns was the president Wayne Board for about three years before leaving office in 2020. She later became the president of Teneo.
Meanwhile, VEON announced on Tuesday that Mikhail Fridman resigned from his board.