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Holland & Barrett’s parent company, LetterOne, was co-founded by Russian oligarchs

Holland & Barrett has finally made an interest payment to creditors that had been delayed because of fears over its links with Russian oligarchs facing sanctions.

The interest payment on a €415m loan taken by the health and wellness retailer had been held up by HSBC over concerns linked to H&B’s parent company, investment fund LetterOne, which is majority-owned by Russian oligarchs including Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven.

Both Fridman and Aven have been hit with sanctions from the UK and EU in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They stepped down from LetterOne’s board shortly after being added to the sanctions list.

The bank had sought “extra comfort” from regulatory authorities both in the UK and Luxembourg – where LetterOne is domiciled – that Holland & Barrett itself did not face any sanctions before authorising the payment, according to the Financial Times.

“Holland & Barrett and LetterOne have been advised that HSBC, having received the payment of [euros] interest from Holland & Barrett on March 29, has made the payment to all lenders on March 31,” LetterOne said. “Holland & Barrett is in full compliance with all its obligations to its lenders.”

Last month, Holland & Barrett publicly distanced itself from its owner’s oligarch co-founders as the UK and EU began cracking down on Russian banks and businesspeople linked to the Kremlin by imposing a barrage of financial sanctions.

The retailer, which was bought by LetterOne in 2017, said Fridman had “never sat on the Holland & Barrett board and has no influence or involvement” in its business, and that neither he nor LetterOne had received any dividends from H&B.

Meanwhile, H&B has been running a charity campaign to provide food supplies to the people of Ukraine.

“All of us at Holland & Barrett have been horrified and upset by the war in Ukraine. We stand firmly with the international community calling for a peaceful resolution to the invasion,” it said in a statement last month.