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Economics minister concerned over hostile takeovers in Russia

MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister expressed concern Friday over the number of hostile takeovers in the country.

German Gref said there had been 117 hostile takeovers last year in Moscow alone, according to the city government. Figures cited for the previous two years were 177 (2004) and 151 (2003).

"The costlier the assets become, the larger amount of tools is found to take them away," Gref said.

"White-collar businesses, which are the most competitive, are prevented from growing to the size they deserve. Ineffective owners take over growing businesses only to resell them without developing.''

The minister said no official statistics were available on the number of corporate disputes in the country, but that more than 100 had been reported by the media last year.

According to a survey conducted by a Russian business magazine on mergers and takeovers, the ownership of assets worth a total of more than $4 billion is now being disputed in Russian courts, Gref said.

The minister criticized judges who hand down biased decisions leading to corporate conflicts. According to Gref, 323 Russian judges received disciplinary action in corporate disputes last year, and 73 of them were removed from the bench.

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