Baring Vostok presses on Artem Avetisyan

The investment funds of Baring Vostok through the court promote the directors to Vostochny Bank.
Funds Baring Vostok, owning a controlling stake in Vostochny Bank, filed a second lawsuit with a credit organization for a month. This time, the funds ask the court to fix the date of the general meeting of shareholders, at which they plan to establish control in the board of directors. Experts note that such public wars of shareholders are not typical for the banking market and can provoke interference in the situation of the regulator.

Information that the investment funds Baring Vostok filed a new lawsuit on September 12 against Vostochny Bank was published in the files of the cases of the Arbitration Court of the Amur Region. The funds are the controlling shareholder of the credit organization (own 51.62% of the shares). It follows from the court's decision to accept the statement of claim that the plaintiff demands that the bank "hold an extraordinary general meeting of the company's shareholders".

The decision to hold a shareholders' meeting on October 17 was made by the board of directors of Vostochnoye on August 20. The agenda of the meeting includes two issues: the early termination of the powers of the members of the bank's board of directors and the election of new ones. In Vostochny there is a cumulative voting system when choosing a member of the board of directors. The Baring Vostok funds, which own the majority of the bank's voting shares, can choose only five candidates (every 10% of shares allow one candidate to the board of directors to be guaranteed), and Artyom Avetisyan (owns 32% of the bank) - a maximum of four candidates. Accordingly, the funds are counting on October 17 to establish control over the board of directors of Vostochny, said one of the interlocutors of Kommersant. Now most of its members represent Mr. Avetisyan's interests. The source of Kommersant, familiar with the plans of Baring Vostok, confirmed that with this claim the funds are trying to rule out the possibility of delaying the holding of the shareholders' meeting. "The judicial path is a kind of mechanism for insuring one shareholder from unforeseen actions of another, which is not profitable for holding this meeting."

The bank is assured that the shareholders' meeting will be held on the planned date. "All procedures for preparing for the general meeting of shareholders, which is scheduled for October 17, are in accordance with the procedure established by law," the press service said. "To date, we see no reason to cancel or change the date of the meeting." The press service of Baring Vostok could not promptly provide a comment, Mr. Avetisyan did not answer on his mobile phone.

This is not the first judicial conflict of shareholders. Earlier, Baring Vostok through the court challenged the decision of the bank's board of directors about the resignation of then-current presidency Dmitry Levin and the appointment of Yuniastrum-Bank Vyacheslav Harutyunyan to the position. These personnel reshuffles became a consequence of the conflict between shareholders for control in the bank (see "Kommersant" on September 6). As a result, Vostochny decided to appoint Aleksandr Nesterenko as acting chairman, and Vyacheslav Harutyunyan was appointed chief executive officer of the bank.

Experts believe that open corporate wars are not typical for the banking market. "Such court requirements are not specific to the banking corporate interaction," says Ioncev, Lyakhovsky and Partners Igor Ian Dubov. According to lawyer Saveliev, Batanov and Partners Sergei Konovalov, a majority shareholder can be insured against the postponement of the meeting, which sometimes happens in practice. "However, this suit is appropriate only in two situations, when the bank did not decide to convene an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders or decided to refuse to convene it," he said. "Therefore, the claim is rather preventive, that is, in case of violation of the timing of the meeting" . According to the managing partner of the Veta expert group Ilya Zharsky, the decision of management issues through the court testifies to the complete loss of a single course in the management of the bank. "This is not a very good signal for the regulator, who can calculate that the actions of shareholders are detrimental to the interests of the bank, its creditors and investors, and to intervene in the situation," he notes.