New Zealander Jennings exits Africa-focused Renaissance - report

MOSCOW Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:15am EST

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MOSCOW Feb 21 (Reuters) - Stephen Jennings, a pioneer on Russia's turbulent financial markets in the 1990s, has left his African business three months after losing the Moscow investment bank he founded, a Russian newspaper reported on Thursday.

The Vedomosti daily, citing a letter to staff, said New Zealander Jennings resigned on Jan. 1 as chief executive of Renaissance Group, the business he retained after he exited his loss-making investment bank, Renaissance Capital, in November.

"Stephen is in the same situation as many of you - a shareholder who has left the group," Deputy CEO Hans Jochum Horn said, according to a Russian translation of the letter.

Jennings' departure comes after the sale in November of his one-half stake in Moscow investment bank Renaissance Capital, and other assets, to tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim group.

Renaissance Group - which includes African land development projects, an African consumer finance business and Russian real estate funds - is now preparing to sell its assets, the paper said.

Horn was quoted in the letter as saying he had carried out a preliminary analysis of the group which showed it had assets of $221 million but that these were opaque and illiquid.

The daily added that Horn asked the holders of three issues of Eurobonds in total worth $250 million to agree to restructure those notes.

One source who received a letter sent by Horn told Reuters it instructed shareholders to contact Horn rather than Jennings, indicating he was no longer so operationally involved.

Jennings founded Renaissance in 1995, making his name and fortune as a risk taker and dealmaker who rebuilt the business twice after market crashes.

The September 2008 crash forced him to sell a one-half stake in the investment bank to Prokhorov for $500 million to keep it afloat, but he still faced tough competition from state banks and declining demand for services.

After a downgrade in November by ratings agency Moody's, a deal was announced to split the African-focused Renaissance Group from the Russian-focused investment banking business Renaissance Capital, which has since reduced its head count.

An email sent to Jennings and an email sent to Horn's secretary were not returned. (Reporting By Megan Davies; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter)

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