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Business

Russia's Fridman to avoid legal battle in UK

Media reports have said Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman is not interested in risking a legal battle with the UK government. He's apparently preparing to sell gas fields at the center of a recent spat.

Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman was preparing to sell a number of North Sea gas fields at the heart of a fierce row over ownership, the "Financial Times" reported in its Wednesday edition.

If successful, the move would spare him and his LetterOne investment group a high-profile

legal battle with the British government

.

The newspaper reported that Fridman was close to hiring advisers - thought to be from Morgan Stanley - to help him find buyers for the fields he had intended to exploit in the wake of LetterOne's recent takeover of Dea, the oil and gas business of German energy giant RWE.

Test case

London had voiced its objections to the purchase, arguing that future sanctions against Russia could probably shut down the gas fields in question and imperil North Sea supplies, with another Russian businessman finding himself in the crossfire because of the West's punitive measures against the Kremlin over the latter's role in the Ukraine conflict.

The UK is the first Western government to intervene in a corporate transaction over the risk of further sanctions against Moscow.

The "Financial Times" said Fridman looked ready to press on with building an international energy business, even without the North Sea fields, which account for up to 5 percent of the UK's total gas output.

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