An funding fund backed by Russian oligarchs that was sanctioned by the European Union after invading Ukraine has ties to Teneo, an influential United States-based administration consulting agency.
The general public relations and technique big was employed in 2020 by LetterOne, a Luxembourg-based non-public fairness agency whose co-founders embody sanctioned billionaires Mikhail Fridman, who hails from Ukraine, and Petr Aven. The deal seems to have netted Teneo greater than $3.6 million for arranging interviews and advising on media technique within the US
LetterOne was based by Fridman, Aven, Alexei Kuzmichev, Andrei Kosogov and German Khan – all among the wealthiest enterprise leaders primarily based in Russia. Based on PitchBook knowledge verified by CNBC, all 5 founders had been on LetterOne’s board, with Fridman as chairman. The executives based the corporate in 2013 after creating Alfa Group, one of many largest conglomerates in Russia.
Fridman and Aven have been accused by the European Union of getting ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, allegations denied in an announcement emailed to CNBC. The assertion did not reply any of CNBC’s questions on LetterOne’s collaboration with Teneo or how the mutual fund is doing after two of its founders had been sanctioned. Fridman’s financial institution, Alfa Financial institution, was additionally sanctioned by the USA. He requires an finish to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
After CNBC questioned a LetterOne consultant Monday about their enterprise, together with their relationship with Teneo, a number of pages of their web site, together with the “our workers” part, seem to have been deleted Tuesday morning. An error message is now displayed on this part, which lists the founders and executives of the corporate. The LetterOne Boards part remains to be energetic, however now not reveals Fridman and Aven as members of their boards.
Joshua Hardie, a spokesman for LetterOne, mentioned Fridman and Aven resigned from the board on Tuesday. CNBC first contacted the non-public fairness agency on Monday.
Although emails to Teneo went unanswered, Kathleen Lacey, a senior government on the firm who was listed in a doc because the proprietor of the LetterOne account, instructed CNBC in a quick telephone name Monday that she was now not a shopper and he or she now not believed her firm.
The Justice Division’s FARA unit, which oversees U.S. lobbying and advisory work for overseas representatives, instructed CNBC on Tuesday that it believes the contract between Teneo and LetterOne “stays energetic.”
LetterOne has a number of ties to Teneo, which was based by two Democratic advisors who labored for former Presidents Invoice Clinton, Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Based on PitchBook, the non-public fairness agency has been concerned in almost a dozen offers estimated to be price over $1 billion. For instance, Uber noticed a $200 million funding from LetterOne in 2016.
Since then, Teneo has grown right into a consulting big whose previous purchasers embody Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola. International purchasers included Neom, an organization that helps the Juggernaut Public Funding Fund with the aim of making a megacity in Saudi Arabia, and a basis run by an Emirati princess.
Her listed senior advisors are a who’s who of politicians and enterprise leaders, together with former Speaker of the Republican Home of Representatives Paul Ryan, former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, and Harvey Pitt, a former chairman of the Securities and Trade Fee.
Doug Band, who was as soon as one among Invoice Clinton’s closest associates, co-founded Teneo with Declan Kelly and Paul Keary. Kelly served because the particular envoy for Northern Eire within the Obama administration, supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. Band and Kelly have since left the agency, with the latter resigning as CEO of Teneo after reportedly being drunk and inappropriate had occasion organized by non-profit group World Citizen. Keary grew to become CEO after Kelly’s resignation.
A contract between Teneo and LetterOne, reviewed by CNBC, reveals the consultancy was employed in 2020 to advise the fund on its media technique for a charge of $150,000 monthly. Based on the contract, Teneo was to “present the Firm and its board members with strategic and stakeholder engagement recommendation (together with however not restricted to media interview planning, media briefing help, stakeholder engagement coordination and associated actions).”
As a part of the deal, LetterOne was on observe to pay Teneo greater than $3.6 million as of September 2020. No less than 4 Teneo representatives labored on the account, in keeping with different paperwork filed with the DOJ.
Extra paperwork present Teneo credited final yr’s try to arrange interviews for LetterOne executives with producers and TV hosts, together with these at CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Enterprise. A doc reveals a Bloomberg consultant was contacted almost a dozen occasions to see if LetterOne might sponsor one among their Bloomberg Make investments occasions.
There are different connections between Teneo and LetterOne.
LetterOne’s non-executive chairman is Evan Davies, a British businessman who was as soon as Secretary of State for Commerce, Funding and Small Enterprise. He’s additionally a Senior Advisor at Teneo.
VEON, a telecommunications firm working in Russia and Ukraine, is listed on LetterOne’s web site as one among its energetic investments. Ursula Burns was Chair of the VEON Board for nearly three years earlier than stepping down in 2020. She later grew to become chair of Teneo.
In the meantime, VEON introduced on Tuesday that Mikhail Fridman has resigned from their board.