Russian Billionaire Takes on Ana Botin, and Wins

A stand-off between Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and Ana Botin has ended with the Banco Santander SA chairman blinking first. Fridman’s hostile bid for struggling Spanish grocer Distribuidora Internacional de Alimentacion SA won shareholder approval earlier this month. But Santander, DIA’s second-biggest lender, objected to a related deal to recapitalize the company, a Bloomberg View reported. That refusenik stance threatened to trigger a default and wipe out Fridman’s equity within weeks of the takeover succeeding. DIA needs a deep-pocketed owner to oversee an arduous turnaround after years of mismanagement that culminated in a 90% share-price fall in 2018 and a restatement of the accounts. Fridman’s L1 Retail amassed a 29% stake as the stock fell, leaving it nursing losses. Read more