* Stephen Jennings pulls out of RenCap after 17 years
* Billionaire tycoon Prokhorov takes over
* Jennings to focus on Africa, asset management units
By Megan Davies and Douglas Busvine
MOSCOW, Nov 14 Stephen Jennings, a New Zealander
who became one of post-Soviet Russia's financial titans, is
selling out of his Renaissance Capital to billionaire Mikhail
Prokhorov and leaving Russian investment banking to focus on
frontier markets like Africa.
It is the end of an era for Jennings, who came to Moscow
aged 32 with Credit Suisse First Boston in 1992. He went on to
found Renaissance in 1995, making his name and fortune as a risk
taker and dealmaker who rebuilt twice after market crashes.
The tall ex-rugby player had lately been spending less time
in Moscow as he builds up Renaissance's businesses in Kenya,
Nigeria and South Africa.
Under the deal announced on Wednesday he will continue to
run most of what remains of Renaissance Group after the split
from the investment bank: an asset management operation, African
land development projects, an African consumer finance business
and Russian real estate funds.
Billionaire-turned-politician Prokhorov's Onexim Group will
buy the half of Renaissance Capital it doesn't already own and
take over Russian-based consumer lender Renaissance Credit for
an undisclosed sum, the two sides said.
Prokhorov, who ran on a liberal platform and lost to
Vladimir Putin in this year's Russian presidential election, has
a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $13 billion, including
a stake in aluminium giant RUSAL, gold miner Polyus
Gold and the U.S. Brooklyn Nets basketball team.
Jennings moved to Moscow with Credit Suisse in 1992 to
advise on the mass privatisations that launched Russia on a
rugged path from central planning to a market economy and earned
staggering riches for a handful of well-connected insiders.
He masterminded the first privatisation of a post-Communist
Russian company - the Bolshevik Biscuit Factory, before founding
Renaissance with Russian-American businessman Boris Jordan.
The business was laid low by the 1998 crash and Russia's
default on sovereign debt, but Jennings stayed on to rebuild it
in the 2000s after his partners quit. He added asset management
and consumer banking businesses and expanded into Africa.
He turned down offers from Russian banks, including one from
state-controlled VTB to buy out Renaissance Capital at
the top of the market for a reported $4 billion.
The Sept. 2008 crash forced him to accept a far lower
valuation to keep RenCap afloat as he sold a one-half stake in
the investment bank to Prokhorov for $500 million.
Jennings worked overtime on the trading floor at the peak of
the market turmoil in an attempt to deal his way out of trouble.
He was forced to make severe staff cuts, later describing the
process as like "surgery without anaesthetic".
"The investment banking industry globally is hugely
oversized, it has been a massive bubble," Jennings told Reuters
in June. "It probably was one of the best industries to be in
and now is one of the worst."
Renaissance Capital ranks eighth in Russia for M&A advisory
so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters data from Friday,
advising on $32 billion in deals. It has had to cut some staff
already this year. Recent projects include advising <BP BP.L> on
sale of its stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft.
John Hyman, Deputy CEO of Renaissance Capital, will take
over the helm of the investment bank from Jennings, who could
not be reached for comment.