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The Czech financial group PPF filed an application with the Russian
The Czech financial group PPF filed an application with the Russian anti-trust watchdog to buy 100% of electronics retailer Eldorado, with 35-40% to be resold to Italy's Generali Group, a business paper reported Tuesday.

The partners will take hold of all of Eldorado's stores except for cell phone outlets, an application for which has been filed by Russia's largest mobile operator MTS, Kommersant said.

The paper said it had learnt about the intention of Generali Group, one of Europe's largest insurers, to acquire 35-40% in Eldorado, which has 1,150 stores, including around 450 franchise outlets, from an official at the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.

The deal will involve a series of purchases and sales involving Cypriot companies, Kommersant said.

"The Anti-Monopoly Service intends to give its approval for the deal between PPF and Eldorado by the end of this week," Timofei Nizhegorodtsev, head of the antitrust watchdog's department for oversight of the social sphere and trade, told Kommersant.

A Kommersant source in PPF Group confirmed corresponding agreements with Generali.

Another Russian business paper reported on Monday that Igor Yakovlev, the owner of Eldorado and the PPF Group agreed on Friday to transfer a 51% stake in the retailer to the Czech company.

Vedomosti said that under the deal PPF would write off a $500 million loan extended to the retailer in September 2008 against the pledge of 51% of Eldorado's shares. The parties agreed that the Czech group had the right to demand the return of the money or to convert it into a controlling stake.

Eldorado ran into difficulties a year ago when tax authorities presented the company with tax claims for 2004-2005 totaling 15 billion rubles ($455 million). The tax claims were linked to Eldorado's wholesale operations. At the same time, banks demanded that the company prematurely repay $400 million in loans, the paper said.

As a result, suppliers suspended stock deliveries to the retailer while it failed in its legal challenge against the tax claim.


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