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MOSCOW, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Alisher Usmanov is selling through a share buyback a 10 percent stake in his holding company USM, whose interests include metals firm Metalloinvest and mobile phone operator MegaFon, but will remain its largest shareholder.
"USM Holdings Limited ... announces a share buyback involving the repurchase of 10 percent of USM's shares from its majority shareholder, Alisher Usmanov," USM said in a statement on Tuesday.
The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on some Russian companies and individuals over Moscow's stance on Ukraine. Neither Usmanov, Russia's richest man, nor his companies are on the current list of those parties affected.
USM said that Usmanov, also a shareholder in Britain's Arsenal soccer club, will continue to be USM's largest shareholder with a total voting power of 48 percent.
A spokeswoman for USM said the buyback was not linked in any way to current or any possible future sanctions. Forbes magazine estimates Usmanov's fortune at $18.6 billion.
"Mr Usmanov has never considered that they (sanctions) may affect him in any way. He is a businessman and doesn't take any part in politics," she said.
USM said the shares will be allocated among its senior executives, while Usmanov is planning to put the proceeds into an investment fund.
The spokeswoman said that the timing of the decision was linked to the dynamics of the stock market as a fall in share price offers its managers attractive upside in the future.
Some of Russia's tycoons hit by western sanctions, including Gennady Timchenko, have been cutting stakes in their businesses, in some cases ceding control to allies. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Keiron Henderson)