Putin’s friend wants to buy Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

The possible sale of the former US military airport in the Hunsrück region to a Russian investor raises political concerns. The investor is now considering a different approach than previously thought.

In the situation for the sale of the bankrupt Hahn airport, NR Holding AG of Russian majority shareholder Viktor Kharitonin is considering taking a stake of less than 25%. “This would mean that NR Holding AG’s stake would be below a blocking minority and it would have no veto power or influence over operational management,” the company that owns Nürburgring told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

The interest of pharmaceutical entrepreneur Kharitonin in the Hunsrück airport is purely financial, not strategic. “The remaining 75% of the buying company is to be held by investors in Germany – which ones are yet to be specified,” the statement said.

At a time of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Kharitonin’s plan drew a huge response. Hessian Finance Minister Michael Boddenberg (CDU), for example, said: “At present you should not and cannot do business with Russian oligarchs.” The state of Hesse still owns 17.5 percent of the airport in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The Hahn creditors’ meeting recently did not give the green light to sell to NR Holding AG. However, it stresses: “Viktor Kharitonin is not an oligarch. He does not influence Russian politics.” According to him, the notion that the businessman is close to the Kremlin is false. “There is no doubt that he has contacts with the Russian authorities, ministries, and the Kremlin.

But it is also not unusual for board members of leading German companies to have contacts with the German government. He is an independent and internationally active pharmaceutical entrepreneur with numerous companies and many thousands of employees for whom he is responsible,” it reads.

The reservations about Kharitonin in Germany are discriminatory. Moreover, he is not on any worldwide sanctions list. The company, which owns the legendary Nürburgring racetrack in the Eifel region, explains: “As the bankruptcy administrator of Hahn Airport has already informed us, the buyer and seller have jointly decided to refer the case to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

The head of the ministry, Robert Habek, has confirmed an examination under the Foreign Trade and Payments Act. The question is whether Hahn Airport, with its rare night flight permit, is part of critical infrastructure and whether its sale would compromise public safety and order.

NR Holding AG notes that the annual number of passengers and tonnes of cargo handled at Hahn Airport is below the threshold from which the airport is officially classified as critical infrastructure. “Nevertheless, for reasons of transparency, the purchasing company has passed this inspection. “The holding company assures that it is interested in the reliable continuation of Hahn flights. “We are keen to take charge of about 430 airport employees. And we also want to make necessary and further investments in the airport,” he continued.

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