In a statement published on Monday night, the group said it was not controlled by the Russian oligarch, just hours after his name was added to the European Union’s sanctions blacklist of allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Día said although it was 78 percent owned by LetterOne Investment Holdings SA (LIHS), “no individual shareholder controls the LIHS”, not Fridman nor Petr Aven, who co-founded the Luxembourg-based investment company and has also been hit by EU sanctions.
“Accordingly, the firm considers it is not affected in any way, either directly or indirectly (by the aforementioned individuals who do not control LIHS or, therefore, Día), by the new package of sanctions.”
In a letter to his LetterOne employees, the Ukraine-born financier – one of Russia’s richest men – told staff that “war can never be the answer” and called for the “bloodshed” to end, the company told AFP on Sunday.
“This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years,” he wrote.
Born into a Jewish family in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv in 1964, Fridman studied in Moscow then went on to build a vast business empire encompassing everything from oil and gas to banking, telecoms and distribution.
He divides his time between London and Moscow and Forbes estimates his fortune at $15.5 billion.
Although he has cultivated strong ties to Putin’s administration, he has never become part of the president’s inner circle.
LetterOne first bought into Día in 2017, launching a hostile takeover bid two years later.
The Spanish chain, which operates nearly 6,000 supermarkets in Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil, posted a turnover of 6.64 billion euros ($7.4 billion) last year, the group said on Tuesday, giving a net loss figure of €257.3 million.
In 2019, Spain’s top criminal court opened an investigation into whether Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman artificially depressed the share price of supermarket chain Día before buying the firm.