Oleg Deripaska has not settled everything with Baikal

Forbes found out what is behind the interest of Oleg Deripaska's companies in the water production business on Lake Baikal, as first reported by politician Alexei Navalny.
Origin source
“Instead of Davos, I went to Lake Baikal. Fishing". This message Oleg Deripaska F 19 left in his Instagram the day before the start of the economic forum. However, the billionaire’s interest in the lake is hardly limited to a single fishing trip. As Forbes has found out, Deripaska’s structures are going to start producing and distributing water from Baikal.

Interest in Baikal

A month before the forum in Davos in the Irkutsk Region, the Baikal Aqua Production Company (PC Baikal Aqua) was registered. And in February 2019, a trading company of the same name appeared in Moscow. Aleksey Arnautov, director of new projects at UC Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, became the head of the PC “Baikal Aqua”. A trading company with the same name was headed by Svetlana Kalacheva, whose namesake, according to her LinkedIn profile, works at UC Rusal as head of the department. 99% each of both companies belongs to the subsidiary of the Irkutsk Electric Grid Company (IESK), which, according to Kommersant, in 2018, Deripaska’s structures informally controlled.

Deripaska’s structures will indeed produce water and distribute it, says a source familiar with the project. For Deripaska, Baikal is an important area of ​​social and environmental activities, the Forbes source said. According to him, the production line, on which the Baikal Aqua PC will operate, was purchased from one of the market players. The seller was a non-resident, the Forbes source said.

Structures close to Oleg Deripaska bought the water producer under the trademark Legend of Baikal, the counterparty of the latter told Forbes. According to him, control passed at the end of last year, and the value of the transaction could be about 150 million rubles.

According to SPARK, the Legend of Baikal brand owns the eponymous trading house. He also produces water in the village of Baikal. The trading house has two owners - Baikal Management Company and Vostokbaykalinvest JSC. MC Baikal controls offshore from the Virgin Islands, and Vostokbaikalinvest belongs to Alexey Mityashin and Mikhail Pedorin, follows from the SPARK data. They are considered to be the founders of the Baikal Group of Companies, which includes the above listed companies (trading house, management company and Vostokbaikalinvest).

Difficult relationship

"Where is the position of power, then?" Show us what it is, ”the man with a low baritone is clearly unhappy. His interlocutor unconvincingly justified. He addresses the owner of the disgruntled voice “Oleg Vladimirovich” and, apparently, is his subordinate. Alexey Navalny, who posted the audio recording of this telephone conversation, claims that one of the votes belongs to Oleg Deripaska, and the interlocutors are discussing the “raider seizure of the enterprise for the production of bottled water from Baikal”. Judging by the file name, the conversation took place on March 30, 2018.

"The story is sucked from the finger!" - Outraged an employee of one of the structures of Deripaska. According to him, the conversation took place “at the stage of consideration of the transaction” and there is nothing “unlawful” in it.

It follows from the audio recording that the interlocutors discuss the problems of one of the water producers at Baikal. Among them are dozens of enforcement proceedings and claims of customs officers to the owners' perfume business. Several regional media resources have concluded that this is Mityashin and Pedorin’s GK “Baikal”.

Enforcement proceedings in relation to companies of the GC “Baikal” are really calculated in dozens, it follows from the SPARK database. And companies connected with Mityashin and Pedorin were suing Vladivostok and Baltic customs because of the design of the diapers.

Mityashin and Pedorin are old acquaintances. Back in 1998, both were members of the board of directors of Altai Sibenergobank. In the mid-90s, the bank got into criminal records because of allegations of embezzling RAO UES funds. The frauds suspected including co-owner of the bank Mityashin. The court sentenced Mityashin to five years in prison.

The scandal did not prevent Mityashin from becoming an adviser to the general director of the management company of the Rusal holding company founded by Oleg Deripaska. Then he was in charge of power engineering at Metalloinvest and Rosgazification structures. In parallel, together with Peorin, he developed several projects in the Far East (friends call Peororin a native of this region). In the early 2010s, it became known about the interest of businessmen to Lake Baikal.

Problem business

At the end of 2017, a shield appeared on the roof of one of the buildings in the port of Baikal, which reported that the Legend of Baikal water abstraction station was exporting and receiving liquid fecal waste. The Legend of Baikal Trading House had to seek a refutation of this information through the courts.

The shield placed Eurofinance LLC. The counterpart of Legends of Baikal believes that Eurofinance acted in the interests of the co-founder of the Baikalsea Company group (Baikalsi) Maxim Surnin. Until 2019, co-owner of Baikalsi was Renova, billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.

According to SPARK, the head and beneficiary of Eurofinance is Maxim Chernigovsky. His full namesake was headed by JSC "Olkhinsky source", a member of "Baikalsi". Surnin in a conversation with Forbes said that he is well acquainted with Chernihiv, but he has no relation to Baikalsi. Eurofinance offered legal services to Baikalsi, but Surnin refused. He also noted that “Baikals” is not related to the proceedings between the “Legend of Baikal” and “Eurofinance”.

Relations with the owners of the Legend of Baikal at Surnin did not work out. According to him, in 2016, they even wrote a letter to Vekselberg, where they personally complained about him and Baikalsi. “[The owners of Baikalsi wrote] that we captured the market and do not allow them to live,” Surnin retells the content of the document. Baikalsi sells Baikal water under several brands, including Baikal430. The total revenue of the Baikalsi companies in 2017 amounted to 568 million rubles (SPARK data). According to Surnin, “Baikalsi” is the absolute leader on the Baikal water market. Another market participant estimates the share of “Baikals” at 35-40%, “The Legend of Baikal” ranks second with about 15%.

Surnin met Mityashin and Pedorin "about 8 years ago." They themselves came to his office to discuss potential cooperation. The meeting did not give results. But Mityashin and Pedorin launched their project “Baikal Sun”. The partners promised the region 2 billion rubles of investments and employment of employees of the Baikal pulp and paper mill. The company, owned by Oleg Deripaska, has not worked since 2008 due to the ban on dumping wastewater into Baikal. The authorities spent on the development of infrastructure for the project 347 million rubles. But in 2014, “Baikal Sun” was declared bankrupt.

Promising market
Despite the bankruptcy of "Baikal Sun", Mityashin and Pedorin did not abandon the production of water. And, perhaps, attracted to the project a new investor. Since 2013, Maria Pleshkova has owned a 5% stake in the management company Baikal (managed by the Baikal Group of Companies). She, according to SPARK, led Krasnodar LLC Energia, whose beneficiary is Oleg Deripaska, and several companies of the former top manager of billionaire Tatyana Dubrovskaya. RBC called her common-law wife Andrei Karklin.

Karklin is also associated with Deripaska. In particular, he headed the Baikal Yacht Club LLC, which was the customer of the Selenga yacht. The media attribute the vessel to Oleg Deripaska, in 2016 it was launched on Lake Baikal.

The business group "Baikal" has remained unprofitable since 2013. With revenue of 50 million rubles in 2017, the loss of the Baikal Water trading house (engaged in the sale of products of the Baikal Group) amounted to 20 million. In April 2018, Karklin became the general director of Vostokbaykalinvest. At the end of 2018, the company, together with its subsidiary IESK, established the Baikal Aqua Production Complex, receiving 1% of the new company. The PC "Baikal Aqua" is registered at one address with the Legend of Baikal trading house.

Now producers of water from Baikal are losing in competition to players from central Russia because of high transport costs, explains a market participant. But proximity to China would allow building an attractive export model, argues Surnin. According to him, the Asian market exceeds the Russian "by several orders of magnitude." He estimates his current volume at $ 25-29 billion and predicts its growth to $ 45-50 billion in the next 10 years.

The global trend for the production of clean drinking water is growing, says a person familiar with the plans of the Baikal Aqua production center: “People are increasingly thinking about a healthy lifestyle, less consumption of soda.” In this sense, the business is quite promising, the Forbes interlocutor argues: “Not only from a visionary point of view, but also from a commercial one”.

RusHydro reported that they do not control IESK (the state-owned company owns 43% of the shares) and are not interested in producing water. UC Rusal is not related to the production of water, the press service of the company reported. In EN +, based Deripaska, declined to comment. At IESK and GC "Baikal" did not respond to requests. Mityashin did not respond to Forbes' requests for comment, transmitted through several of his acquaintances.