Russia's youngest billionaire acquires British sports car maker TVR

Russian oligarchs prefer to follow Roman Abramovich's example

Twenty-three-year-old Russian oligarch Nikolai Smolensky is the new owner of the British sports car company TVR. Nikolai Smolensky is the son of the Russian banker Alexander Smolensky.

The Blackpool-based company is one of the few private-owned car companies left in Great Britain. The company employs 400 people. According to media reports, the new owner promised the company would continue developing.

Former TVR owner Peter Wheeler and the new proprietor do not unveil the details of the transaction. According to the Financial Times, the British sports car maker's income in 2002 made up over $700 thousand. Peter Wheeler said he was very sorry to part with his company, although he added it was time to pass the business to the young generation.

The plans to produce Sagaris and Tuscan 2 models remain unchanged. First demo cars will appear in the dealers' network during the coming months.

Observers say, the new ownership of the British company may produce a sensation comparable to Roman Abramovich's acquiring of Chelsea.

Alexander Smolenaski, the father of the new company owner, set up a savings bank in the middle of the 1990s. The businessman bought Agroprombank and established the largest network of banks in Russia with more than a million of private depositors - SBS-Agro. The bank went bankrupt after the financial crisis in Russia in 1998; it was abolished in 2003. Debts to private depositors were partially cleared, although the bank still owed about $1.2 billion to foreign clients.

In 2003 Alexander Smolensky established a new network called The First Community of Mutual Credit, known in Russia as 1O.V.K.  A part of new companies was housed in the offices of SBS-Agro. Alexander Smolensky's son Nikolai headed the board of directors of the new financial organization. In 2004 the banker sold his empire to Interros Group, which currently plans a merger between O.V.K. and Rosbank. In February of 2004 Nikolai Smolensky was recognized Russia's youngest billionaire.

TVR is a small British car maker, which manufactures up to 2,000 cars a year. TVR ranks third among the world's sports cars makers. The range of company’s models includes Tuscan S, T350, T400R, T440R, Cerbera, Tamora, Sagalis. All cars are custom-made.

On the photo: TVR's T350

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Author`s name Olga Savka