By Stelios Orphanides
Victor Vekselberg, the main shareholder of the Bank of Cyprus, has not sold his 9.3 per cent stake in the bank, his spokesman said.
“As it was explained to us by UBS which holds BOC shares including Mr Vekselberg’s stake on the ‘omnibus account’ at BNP London, it was some kind of intra-bank transaction which automatically triggered Bloomberg news,” Vekselberg’s spokesperson said in an email on Thursday, a day after the Cyprus Business Mail reported the transaction.
According to the Bloomberg alert, Switzerland’s UBS AG Zurich Client Account had taken a position in Bank of Cyprus Holdings Plc, buying 9.4 percent of the company’s outstanding stock or 42.1 million shares.
The alert about the said transaction triggered speculation over the fate of Vekselberg’s stake at a Wednesday meeting of Bank of Cyprus’s top management.
Bloomberg tracks registry data for shareholders of the securities of the largest 2,000 companies traded at the London Stock Exchange and issues an alert when an investor buys at least 1 per cent of a company’s outstanding shares or exits a position of at least 1 per cent.
The US placed Vekselberg, owner of a 9.3 per cent stake in the island’s largest bank via Lamesa Group, on a sanctions list targeting Russian companies, government officials and businessmen. The latest round of US sanctions against Russia prompted Switzerland’s pump-maker Sulzer to buy back stock held by the Russian billionaire to avoid being also targeted by sanctions.