In 2016-2017, the Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin managed to increase his fortune almost 6 times - to 74 billion rubles (1.3 billion dollars, according to Forbes). But, apparently, soon we will see the collapse of his chemical empire. The key enterprises of Mazepin, it seems, are threatened with bankruptcy - the billionaire's attempt to fix things at the expense of TogliattiAzot (ToAZ) failed. The main asset of Dmitry Mazepin is the group of companies "Uralkhim", which is considered one of the largest producers of mineral fertilizers in Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe. Problems in the "Uralchem" began to mature more than four years ago, but then it looked like a great success.
In 2013, the company received a loan of $ 4.5 billion from VTB Capital. The money was used by Mazepin to buy a stake in Uralkali from Suleiman Kerimov, the bank provided him with funds against bail of the company's acquired shares. Here one can not help but recall that the change of ownership of Uralkali was also politically motivated. The holding formed a powerful cartel together with Belaruskali, but contradictions arose between its owners and the leadership of Belarus. The conflict was resolved at the interstate level. It was assumed that the change of owners of Uralkali would restore relations. Therefore, there is every reason to assume that Mazepin paid Kerimov clearly overpriced and thereby compensated him for political costs.
At the time of the transaction, Uralkhim already had debts of $ 676 million. In 2014, due to the collapse of the ruble, the company was in a situation of "currency mortgage". It seems that the losses from a sharp change in exchange rate differences amounted to about 1.7 billion rubles, while the cost of the package bought by Mazepin in the "Uralkali" fell almost 3 times - to $ 1.2 billion. By the end of the year, Uralkali's loss amounted to more than 33 billion rubles, the reasons, apparently, were a drop in world demand for fertilizers due to the "sanction war", as well as a drop in the quality of Uralkali's products due to technogenic reasons. A failed attempt to restore the alliance with Belaruskali also played a role.
According to some reports, Mazepin's structures violated the terms of the loan agreement with VTB Capital as early as 2014. Then, taking into account the political situation, the bank refused to exert a tough influence on the debtor, but this position is unlikely to last forever. Moreover, in some enterprises of Dmitry Mazepin, creditors can find signs of withdrawal of assets.
Credit for the "black hole"
The business strategy of Dmitry Mazepin in practice demonstrates the events around the plant "Resurrection mineral fertilizers" (VMU). The enterprise was bought by the oligarch in 2008, despite the fact that a year earlier the controlling authorities ordered the plant to close due to extreme wear and tear on production lines. In 2009, under the instruction of Rostekhnadzor, VMC stopped the operation of ammonia systems, closed one of the two sulfuric acid systems, which resulted in massive staff cuts. As a result of 2009, the plant received a loss of 1.5 billion rubles. One might assume that the billionaire bought a distressed plant in order to bring it back to life. VMU - the city-forming enterprise of Voskresensk, Dmitry Mazepin could conduct a deep modernization of the plant and bring it to profit, thereby supporting life in a Moscow monocity.
However, there is evidence that almost immediately after the purchase of the plant, translation of the "fit" assets of the VMU into Uralkhim could begin. Access roads, sewage treatment plants, land plots and buildings of individual shops were probably carried out through the Cyprus company Assethill Holdings Ltd, which at that time was part of the affiliated persons with the Kirovo-Chepetsk chemical combine - another structure of Mazepin. By the way, the main "assistant" of the chemical magnate in the privatization of the VMU is the former mayor of Voskresensk, Yuri Sleptsov, who was later convicted by the Moscow regional court for bribery. To be fair, it should be noted that in 2016 the owner of the VMU tried to partially re-profile the plant and start producing modern water-soluble fertilizers. But, despite this, today the company's loading is no more than 50% of the nominal capacity, and given the current economic realities and the drop in demand for fertilizers, the plant's prospects are completely uncertain.
The flight of "Uralkali"
Dmitry Mazepin bought a worn out Sunday factory not at his own expense, but designed for this loan in Sberbank for 3 billion rubles. The money was received by Dmitry Mazepin, despite the current obligations to this bank in the amount of 700 million rubles. Is such "assistance" possible without the personal involvement of the head of Sberbank German Gref? By the way, it is this institution that is the largest creditor of "Uralkali", around which in recent years there have been several interesting events that have remained almost unnoticed by the press. In 2015, the company delisted from the London Stock Exchange, in December 2017, a message appeared about the decision of the board of directors of Uralkali to withdraw from the Moscow Stock Exchange as well. Apparently, now Uralkali (PJSC Uralkali) is preparing to transition to the status of a private company and further probable reorganization, liquidation or sale. This can be justified by the considerable deterioration of production assets and regular accidents, as well as by the large debts of the holding company. The company's debt to Sberbank is $ 2.46 billion, and the total amount of debts is about $ 5 billion.
In view of the difficult situation on the potash market, following the results of 2016, Uralkali has seen a decline in production volumes (by 5%) and sales (by 2%), a 27% decrease in revenues compared to 2015. Problems on the company's production sites led to an increase in the cost of production by 6%. Due to all this, by 2020 the company planned to cut staff by 20%.
It is possible that in this scenario Mazepin will decide on the bankruptcy of PJSC Uralkali. No one will be surprised if, by that time, the company's assets and assets leave the company's balance sheets. This can be confirmed by the fact that in 2017, the FTS added to the "Uralkali" taxes for 980 million rubles, because it believed that the company understated the base of income tax through a deal with interdependent persons. It was about the income that Uralkali received as a result of operations with the purchase and sale of the company's shares between mutually affiliated PJSC Uralkali, Cypriot Enterpro Services and Uralkali-Tech.
Businessman or raider?
Against the backdrop of problems with the main assets, Dmitry Mazepin continues to participate in the joint-stock conflict with the owners of TogliattiAzot. The confrontation began 10 years ago, in 2012 it moved into the active phase. The shareholders of the ToAz became involved in a criminal case on fraud: according to the investigation, in 2008-2011 TogliattiAzot sold its products (ammonia and carbamide) abroad at artificially low prices. The court ruled on the absentee arrest of the defendants, now they are, according to some sources, in the United States.
By the way, there is one interesting detail: at the end of 2015, the minority shareholder of ToAZ, Evgeny Sedykin, who is associated with Dmitry Mazepin, held a so-called repeated annual shareholders meeting, which resulted in the election of Sedykin himself for an indefinite term as chairman of the board of directors of ToAZ. Subsequently, TogliattiAzot successfully challenged all the conducted procedures in the courts, in July of last year Sedykin was sentenced to four years probation for attempting to raid the ToAZ truck.
And one more interesting detail: in January 2018 the press reported on the detention in Russia of Sergei Sokolov, who was the head of the security service of Boris Berezovsky. Sokolov is suspected of illicit trafficking in firearms, and another person involved in the criminal case was Oleg To Antoshin, ex-chief of the security service of ToAZ. Arrested persons are also checked for involvement in the staging of terrorist acts. Probably, the gentlemen in 2016 could have a bearing on the laying of weapons and illegal political literature in the premises of TogliattiAzot. The customers and sponsors of this operation, which was supposed to publicly discredit the main owners of ToAZ, are not yet established, but someone can link the actions of Sokolov and Antoshin with the activity against ToAZ of persons from the environment of Dmitry Mazepin.
At least, the lawyers of "Uralkhim" serve in court the interests of arrested Sokolov and Antoshin. And they do it certainly not because of mercy, but perhaps because of fears that the defendants will begin active cooperation with the investigation and outward they will get very unpleasant details of their work. Among other things, the horrifying question arises in the history of attacks on TogliattiAzot: how could it happen that a respected member of the Forbes list and the owner of Uralkhim, Dmitry Mazepin, is so often mentioned in the context of the frankly criminal elements of Sedykin, Sokolov and Antoshin?
Official statement of URALCHEM
Recently, in a number of media and social media, there has been misleading information discrediting the business reputation of URALCHEM.
These materials of the same type are falsely accused by URALCHEM in attempts to raid the capture of PJSC Tolyattiazot. The materials discrediting the company's reputation state that "as a result of the actions of the lawyers of URALCHEM [the owners of ToAZ] became the defendants of the criminal case of fraud." This information is false.
JSC URALCHEM for several years has been pushing the leadership of PJSC TogliattiAzot to respect the rights of minority shareholders and to stop the practice of violations of legislation related to the production and economic activities of TogliattiAzot. All actions of URALCHEM in relation to PJSC Tolyattiazot are undertaken within the framework of the existing legislative field. In 2012, according to the statement of "URALCHEM" law enforcement authorities opened a criminal case under Part 4 of Art. 159 of the Criminal Code - embezzlement by fraud, committed by an organized group, in a particularly large amount.
At the end of 2017, the investigation of the criminal case was completed, the Prosecutor General's Office approved the indictment against the company's managers Vladimir Makhlai, his son - US citizen Sergei Makhlay, former CEO of Togliattiazot Corporation Evgeny Korolev, and owners of Nitrochem Distribution AG Andreas Tsivi and Beata Ruprecht-Wedemeier, the last of whom are Swiss citizens. Currently, the criminal case is being examined in the Komsomolskiy district court of Togliatti.
URALCHEM, JSC suggests that the organization of the above-mentioned publications is related to the attempts of the defendants in the criminal case to exert pressure on the court, to evade responsibility and to discredit URALCHEM as the victim and the plaintiff. In order to protect its business reputation, UXC URALCHEM reserves the right to take measures provided for by Russian law.