Goldman bucks international trend with investment in Russian property firm

MOSCOW Tue May 6, 2014 5:28am EDT

MOSCOW May 6 (Reuters) - U.S. bank Goldman Sachs has invested $100 million in a Russian real estate firm, bucking the trend of international investors draining money from the country as the Ukraine crisis escalates.

Goldman bought a 6 percent stake in O1 Properties, the Russian company said on its website, adding that it would use its expanded capital base to reduce debt and invest in premium office buildings in Moscow.

The investment bank declined to comment on the deal, which follows its commitment in February to increase investment in Russian fitness club chain World Class..

O1 Properties, which invests in commercial buildings to generate rental income, is part-owned by Boris Mints, who agreed this year to sell about a quarter of his holding to ITC Group, the investment company owned by Russian tycoon Alexander Nesis.

O1 Properties did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how much of the company is owned by Mints.

Neither Mints nor Nesis are on the European Union's list of individuals subject to asset freezes and travel bans in sanctions imposed in protest at Russia's seizure of the Crimean peninsula.

The purchase by Goldman comes against a backdrop of surging capital outflows from Russia as rising tension over the Ukraine crisis adds to the woes of the country's already struggling economy.

Russia's central bank has published balance of payments data that showed an estimated $63.7 billion in net capital outflow in the first three months of the year, against $63 billion for the whole of 2013.

(Reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Jason Bush and David Goodman)

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