Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Romney's Son Travels to Russia in Search of Investors

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Romney's Son Travels to Russia in Search of Investors

Article excerpt

Matt Romney traveled to Moscow this past week seeking Russian investors for his California-based real estate firm just days before his father is to wrap up a campaign in which he has vowed to take a tougher stance with the Kremlin.

Matt Romney, a son of the Republican presidential nominee, traveled to Moscow this past week seeking Russian investors for his California-based real estate firm just days before his father is to wrap up a campaign in which he has vowed to take a tougher stance with the Kremlin.

Matt Romney, the second-oldest son of Mitt Romney, met with Russians whom he hoped to persuade to invest in his company, Excel Trust, which owns shopping centers across the United States, the firm said. Although the focus of Mr. Romney's firm has been solely domestic, it said it had begun exploring international opportunities to raise funds.

Mr. Romney's trip a week before the presidential election underscored the complex relationship between his family's business and the political campaign. Mitt Romney has criticized President Barack Obama as being too soft on Russia, calling it "our No.1 geopolitical foe" and promising to confront President Vladimir V. Putin's government with "more backbone" if elected on Tuesday.

The candidate has also criticized Mr. Putin's crackdown on domestic dissent and opposition to stronger international measures against Syria and Iran. He has assailed Mr. Obama as not doing more to defend human rights in Russia and for signing a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Moscow. As Congress considers normalizing trade relations with Moscow, Mr. Romney has insisted that it also penalize Russian officials who commit human rights violations, a linkage the Obama administration has resisted.

The Romney campaign said it had no comment.

The Russian Embassy in Washington said it was unaware of the trip. "We haven't got any information about Mr. Romney and his visit to Moscow," said Yevgeny Khorishko, an embassy spokesman. "He didn't inform us about his visit."

But while in Moscow, Mr. Romney told a Russian known to be able to deliver messages to Mr. Putin that despite the campaign oratory, his father wants good relations if he becomes president, according to a person informed about the conversation.

Matt Romney traveled to Moscow with Gary B. Sabin, the chairman and chief executive of Excel Trust, which is based in San Diego. Greg Davis, the firm's vice president of capital markets and communications, said the trip was unrelated to the campaign.

"It is a harmless trip," Mr. Davis said. "It was a trip that has been planned for some time. Any travel they've done on behalf of Excel is strictly on the private side. It would have nothing to do with anything governmental."

Excel is a real estate investment trust that focuses on shopping centers largely in Sun Belt states from California to Florida and up to Pennsylvania. …

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