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Russia Tycoon Cedes French, London Estates For Debt

The Moskva-Siti business center, built by company Shalve Chigirinsky, stood half-finished in December 2008.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian tycoon Shalva Chigirinsky has handed over his French Riviera villa and a London mansion to his oil company which is suing him for $400 million.

Sibir Energy said on May 22 that it had "received a charge" over shares in the company which controls Villa Marina Irina on France's Cap Martin and a pledge of future profits from the sale of Hugh House in London's upscale Belgravia district.

Russia's billionaire oligarchs have so far avoided losing their luxury investments such as property, yachts, and soccer clubs despite seeing their collective wealth plunge by $378 billion over the past year.

Chigirinsky, an oil and property tycoon who engaged British architect Norman Foster to build Europe's tallest skyscraper in Moscow but abandoned the project when the crisis stalled construction, has fled Russia.

Hugh House was listed for sale on an exclusive UK property website at 45 million pounds ($71.08 million).

Sotheby's could not comment immediately on Hugh House.

Sibir is suing Chigirinsky in connection with an attempt by the tycoon to sell to sell his Russian property portfolio to the company. Sibir says it is owed $400 million from the failed deal.

Chigirinsky also handed over 10.6 million shares in Sibir -- about 2.7 percent of the company, a fraction of his reported stake -- for sale to state oil company Gazprom Neft at 500p each, Sibir said. The stake was worth around $75 million.

A Moscow broker, Renaissance Capital, said on May 22 it had launched a new buyout offer for Sibir shareholders on behalf of Gazprom Neft and could build a stake of up to 30 percent of the company.

Sibir suggested the property and shares handed over to the company would not cover the full amount owed, saying it was seeking further security from Chigirinsky.