Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is seen in the stand during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on December 19, 2015 in London, England.
Clive Mason | Getty Images
A venture capital fund backed by sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich appears to be trying to erase all traces of its operations since being sanctioned by the UK and EU as the Kremlin wages war on the EU. ‘Ukraine.
Impulse VC, an investment fund that has offices in Russia and Germany, has removed almost all parts of its website that identify who they are. Their website at the publication of this story only shows their name “Impulse”.
However, a search of the Wayback Machine Internet Archive shows that as part of the sanctions imposed on Abramovich by US allies, the fund’s site showed extensive details about its operations and investors, including its portfolio, offices and target investments in prospective companies.
Abramovich owns British football powerhouse Chelsea FC The billionaire had tried to sell the team but, with UK sanctions now in place, the government now has a say in the sale process. EU and UK sanctions have attempted to freeze Abramovich’s assets while restricting his travel. A Chelsea spokesperson declined to comment on Friday, saying he had forwarded CNBC’s questions to Abramovich’s personal spokesperson, who did not immediately respond.
Impulse VC executives did not respond to multiple emails seeking comment. Research by PitchBook shows that Abramovich is its top investor. While it’s unclear how much Abramovich has invested in the fund, PitchBook shows the Russian billionaire has helped fund venture capital deals, both through Impulse and his separate investment vehicle Norma Investments, which are worth an average of $6.65 million.
The yacht ‘Solaris’ linked to Russian oligarch and politician Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is seen in Porto Montenegro waters in Tivat, Montenegro March 12, 2022.
Stevo Vasiljevic | Reuters
According to PitchBook, a few Abramovich-related investments through Impulse and Norma Investments are based in the United States.
Industry executives say venture capital funds tied to Russian executives are unlikely to be able to avoid the impact of current and future sanctions, including those by the United States.
“I don’t see how venture capital funds will be exempt from current and future sanctions against Russian oligarchs,” Charles Myers, chairman of consultancy firm Signum Global Advisors, said in an interview. “So if Abramovich is sanctioned in the United States, venture capital and private equity funds will have to return his capital which will be seized and frozen by the US Treasury,” he added.
Impulse is the latest Abramovich-backed company that appears to be keeping a low profile under the public scrutiny of sanctions. The Wall Street Journal reported that British Virgin Islands-listed Norma Investments came under the control of an associate of Abramovich hours after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
Marine Traffic data shows that two superyachts owned by Abramovich visited Turkey despite government officials there saying they had no intention of imposing sanctions on Russia.
Abramovich, who has vehemently denied having ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has not yet been sanctioned by the United States, although Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNBC on Friday that the Biden administration could then target. The Wall Street Journal reported that Abramovich has so far avoided US sanctions, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy advising Biden not to sanction Abramovich, saying he could help broker a peace deal with Putin.
Impulse wipes website
Impulse’s archived website from February shows that the venture capital fund has typically invested between $250,000 and $5 million.
Their site’s investment criteria says they’re looking for companies that have “$1 billion+ potential value.”
The previous site also notes that Impulse’s portfolio included more than 60 companies from around the world. Their investments have focused on companies in the US, EU, UK and Russia, the archived site says.
Worksuite, a San Francisco-based company, has seen Impulse’s startup investments with Abramovich named by PitchBook as the “lead partner” for the deals. Worksuite is a workplace management software company that saw millions of dollars in startup investments from Impulse starting in 2016, according to research by PitchBook.
A representative for Worksuite did not return a request for comment ahead of publication.
Genome Protection and OncoTartis, two New York-headquartered drug discovery companies, have received millions of dollars in venture capital funding from Abramovich through his Norma investments.
U.S.-based companies that saw Abramovich’s early investments did not return requests for comment.