The negotiations with the main shareholder of the Moscow Credit Bank (ICD), Roman Avdeev, went further. He was ready to buy 75% of Uralsib for a symbolic ruble and replenish capital by 15 billion rubles, but the deal fell through. At the same time, Vladimir Kogan, who at that time was a co-owner of a small St. Petersburg BFA Bank, became interested in the bank. Tsvetkov and he offered to capitalize the bank. But Kogan waited on November 2, when the Central Bank, disillusioned with Tsvetkov's ability to independently find an investor, announced an auction for the reorganization of Uralsib. For the first time in the history of the Central Bank decided to entrust the reorganization of the bank to a private person. “Kogan’s proposal was the“ cheapest ”in terms of the tasks to be solved,” later explained Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Mikhail Sukhov.
To save Uralsib, the Central Bank provided Kogan with 81 billion rubles (for example, Sistema's closest competitor asked for 100 billion rubles at auction). Kogan received 82% of the entire Uralsib financial corporation, which included many satellites, for example, a leasing and insurance company and a pension fund. Tsvetkov retained a 15% stake in the corporation. The decision to leave Tsvetkov among the shareholders of Uralsib Kogan in one of the interviews called “good will.”
The victory of a non-public businessman Kogan at an auction for Uralsib with assets of almost 400 billion rubles came as a complete surprise. Why did he need a large bank? His longtime acquaintance, a banker from St. Petersburg, explains this by his desire to return to the big game. Back in the 1990s, Kogan was called “the Great” in St. Petersburg, and in 2001 he was offered the post of Chairman of the Central Bank. But in the mid-2000s, Kogan sold off most of his assets, including PSB (VTB paid $ 577 million for him), and began working for the state. Returning to the business in 2011, he immediately began to look for a large asset for himself. Banks Vozrozhdenie, St. Petersburg, Svyaz-Bank and Baltinvestbank - this is an incomplete list of assets that Kogan has been eyeing, according to his friend. He even thought whether to buy Uralkali and Polyus Gold from Suleiman Kerimov. “Kogan always felt that he was a big capitalist and was looking for a form for this sensation,” explains the St. Petersburg financier.
However, Kogan had a major asset - the company Neftegazindustriya, which owned the Afipsky refinery, built in the 1960s in the Krasnodar Territory. Kogan’s partners in this business were Yuri Krymsky and Airat Iskhakov. Krymsky recalls that it was they who advised Kogan to buy Uralsib and introduced him to Tsvetkov. Since the 1990s, Kogan’s partners have worked with Bashkir refineries on a give-and-take basis. “Uralsib” before buying it Tsvetkov in 2003 was the main bank of Bashkiria, and Iskhakov and Krymsky were familiar with his leadership.
From darkness to light
In early 2010, the Afipsky refinery was not in the best shape. In the summer of 2009, Transneft satisfied only half of the refineries for oil supply, the capacities were idle, people were cut. The plant then belonged to the "Basic Element" Oleg Deripaska. During the crisis, the billionaire parted with the dream of becoming a major oil worker, returned Russneft to Mikhail Gutseriev, and now he was looking for buyers for refineries. In the spring of 2010, Yuri Krymsky and Airat Iskhakov purchased it for $ 320 million, $ 210 million buyers borrowed from Sberbank, the remaining $ 110 million, according to Krymsky, Kogan invested. Krymsky knew Kogan from the 1990s and invited him into the project with regard to his political connections. Kogan himself headed the construction department of the Ministry of Regional Development at that time and was responsible for the construction in St. Petersburg of a complex of flood defenses, which was informally called the “Putin dam”. He left the Ministry of Regional Development only in 2011. Krymsky recalls that in 2010, Kogan had already completed “business in St. Petersburg” and moved to Moscow. Through a chain of Cypriot companies and a trust in Liechtenstein, he received 57.6% of Neftegazindustrii, which owned 100% of the Afipsky refinery. Kogan did not intervene in the affairs of the plant, the management was completely on the minority shareholders, the Crimean and Iskhakov.
The emergence of new owners went to the Afipsky refinery benefit. Oil arrived there by rail and through the Transneft oil pipeline. For several years, Deripaska has unsuccessfully tried to completely switch the plant to the pipeline system. Neftegazindustriya did it by 2013. There was another problem. About half of the plant’s output was fuel oil - more than the industry average. Its exports brought a good income: the Afipsky Oil Refinery is located just 100 km from the Black Sea and transshipment points. Krymsky says that the $ 110 million that Kogan invested came back a year later. But in the future the situation should have changed. The state planned for 2015 a tax maneuver in the oil industry, one of its components was the increase in duties on fuel oil. The duties on light oil products, on the contrary, decreased, but in order to increase their output, the plant needed to be modernized.
By 2015, the first stage of modernization was completed. The plant's capacity has almost tripled, to 6 million tons, and debt, to $ 1 billion (almost the entire amount was provided by Sberbank, part of its liabilities in foreign currency). But the introduction of plants that could increase the depth of processing was ahead, and the plant had already felt the tax maneuver and the fall in oil prices. In 2014, the Afipsky Refinery's margin (3200 rubles per ton) was higher than the industry average, in 2015–2016 it was equal to the industry average, which itself decreased from 2500 rubles to 900 rubles per ton of oil in those two years, the main VYGON Consulting economist Sergey Yezhov.
Due to the tax maneuver EBITDA of the Afipsky Refinery collapsed from $ 400 million to $ 200 million. The modernization was in full swing, but it was necessary to negotiate a loan restructuring with Sberbank. This was taken up by Kogan, personally acquainted with German Gref. Having penetrated into the situation at the plant, at the end of 2015, he suggested that Crimean and Iskhakov retire from management. “Prior to this, the minority shareholders dragged the plant on their hump,” explains one of the Afipsky refinery’s contractors. “When the margin decreased, Kogan began to deal with financial flows, ask questions, he was somehow uncomfortable answered - and it started.” Krymsky links the conflict with Kogan to the purchase of Uralsib: having entered a major banking league, he believes, the senior partner has changed dramatically.
Kogan also demanded that Krymsky and Iskhakov transfer to the Neftegazindustrii group the two companies Neftegazindustriya-invest (NGI-invest), which they owned. It was a supplier to the refinery, in fact, it accumulated the main revenue from the trade in petroleum products. According to SPARK, in 2015, NGI-Invest's revenue amounted to 98 billion rubles (from Neftegazindustrii, which was also a supplier, 53.4 billion rubles, from Afipsky refinery, only 6.5 billion rubles).
Krymsky suggests that Kogan wanted to improve the financial performance of the group with the help of NGI-Invest and agree with Sberbank on new loans for further modernization. The businessman claims that Kogan allegedly threatened to start a war if his demands were not met. Acquaintances describe Kogan as a tough and authoritarian businessman who went through more than one corporate war. In the summer of 2016, the owner of NGI-Invest was Lakescope, through which the partners owned Neftegazindustriya. And Evgeni and Efim Kogany took over the management of the Afipsky refinery. They entered the leadership of "Uralsib".
In January 2019, the entrance to the glass factory located in the village of Krasnogvardeisky of the Stavropol Territory was blocked by a group of strong men - about seventy people in tracksuits. Workers at the enterprise were not allowed. Two months later, the work of the plant belonging to the company “Yugros-product” was completely frozen. “Yugros-product” is one of the largest problem debtors of “Uralsib” with the volume of claims of about 6 billion rubles (this amount is confirmed by the founder and head of the plant Alexey Yashkunov). Problems with the service of the loan began in 2008.