Saving the Finnish subsidiary of USC from sanctions is postponed indefinitely

The deal for the sale of part of the only foreign shipyard USC - Finnish Arctech Helsinki Shipyard - scheduled for July was not held. The terms of the agreement with the Croatian partner of the oligarch Viktor Vekselberg changed at the last moment, and not for the better, and Moscow sent to Helsinki auditors with a large-scale inspection, suspecting fraud.
Origin source
American sanctions do not allow the Finnish subsidiary of the state shipbuilding corporation to work. The Western banks closed the financing, the contractors refused to cooperate. And without this, new orders can not be attracted. There are two ways out of the situation: sale or bankruptcy.

The activity in Suomi appeared in USC in 2011. The corporation acquired in the beginning 50%, and in 2014 became the sole owner of the shipyard. The enterprise primarily specializes in the construction of ice-class vessels. In 2016, the shipyard commissioned the world's first icebreaker on natural gas and diesel fuel with a low sulfur content. And the largest order was a series of supply vessels for the Sakhalin-2 project from Sovcomflot. It was planned to build an ice tanker for Yamal LNG and a liner for the Japanese cruise company Peace Boat. But the events in the Crimea and the Donbass and the sanctions that followed them could not but strike at the foreign daughter of the Russian state corporation.

Due to sanctions on USC, some suppliers refused to cooperate, Western banks closed project financing, and Northern European Nordea - accounts. Thousands of payments to suppliers of equipment and subcontractors returned, payment delays led to the disruption of production processes and the failure to deliver the order of Sovcomflot, which imposed a fine of 50 million euros.

Further development of the shipyard is questionable. According to Vladimir Gutenev, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Economic Policy, Industry, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship of the State Duma, the decision is being considered to allow only Russian-made vessels to navigate the Northern Sea Route. This will significantly reduce the list of potential customers from Russia. And to concentrate on the production of cruise liners, as planned in the corporation, without attracting significant credit funds will not work. But if a Western company becomes a majority shareholder, sanctions measures can be relaxed. The sale of a part of the shipyard began to be discussed at the end of 2017. And soon became known and the buyer - the Kermas group of the Croatian businessman Danko Konchar. In the Finnish media he is called the partner of the owner of the Renova group Viktor Vekselberg.

During the SPIEF, USC president Alexei Rakhmanov said that the deal would be in a non-monetary form - 55% in a foreign shipyard will be replaced by shares of the producer of ferroalloys Afarak, which is traded on the London Stock Exchange and is part of the Kermas group. He marked the period "within a few weeks", and then - in July 2018. But at the last moment the conditions changed.

"We had the horizon for closing this deal in July. Moreover, the directive of the government to withdraw from the capital Arctech is already in the White House, and the decision can be made minutes-by-day-hours. If now our main counterparty is changing its principled point of view, then we need to somehow adequately react to this. Because it's easy to accept his new conditions, and he offers shares to another company, from which we will get another problem, we do not want to, "Rakhmanov said.

The company proposed instead of Afarak he did not name. And Ilya Zhitomirsky, director of the USC's information policy and corporate communications department, told Fontanka on August 2 that the deal is still being worked on, but since it can be sensitive to an external background, it will not be commented on.

At the same time, Rakhmanov noted that during the sale of the shipyard complexities began, "harassment" of USC in the media, therefore, "in general, another scenario of development" may be used. Sources Fontanka in the corporation said that in the leadership of USC are working out and the option of bankruptcy of the enterprise.

- Theoretically, the way out of the sanctions (in this way) is possible, because the shipyard after bankruptcy will cease to exist, the legal entity will be liquidated, the property will be sold, but it is unlikely that this option will be used by USC, "said Yaroslav Kabakov, FINAM ". - In this case, for a given asset, you can get at all the money that the current business is worth, it is unlikely that the corporation will agree to this. In addition, declaring a shipyard bankrupt is unlikely to satisfy the authorities and the workforce.

Nevertheless, in June, shortly before the announced problems with the deal, USC concluded a multimillion-dollar contract for a full five-week audit of the shipyard with a single performer whose name is not disclosed. According to the specification, the analysis of Arctech Helsinki Shipyard's activities included documentation on expenses and payments and contractors' selection in 2014-2017 with the purpose of "revealing the facts of non-compliance with USC orders", an analysis of the reasonableness of decision making by shipyard management and also checking payments to suppliers for more than 100 000 euros for compliance with the tasks and budgets of projects. Employees were interviewed to "identify shortcomings and lack of control on the ground, which could lead to disruptions in the production cycle and the failure to fulfill obligations to customers and to potential fraud schemes."

Accounting and management data were collected for their potential transfer to legal expertise. According to the terms of the requirements, you need to keep complete confidentiality about the results of the audit. In the corporation, what we managed to find out, also preferred not to spread, but noted that the coincidence of the audit with the transaction is incorrectly linked in a single chain.

Experts, even if the deal takes place, refer to it with distrust.

"Even if the deal with an existing partner in one form or another will be carried out, the ownership of the remaining package of the shipyard can only weaken the sanctions, but not get rid of them completely," Kabakov said. - So it is possible that in the future will have to sell the rest of the shares.

In turn, Vladimir Gutenev called for companies that refuse cooperation with the shipyard because of sanctions, reciprocated.

- This company (Arctech Helsinki Shipyard), as far as I know, is not under sanctions. But, unfortunately, it became normal practice when the leaders of a number of European countries are reinsured, becoming "holier than the Pope".

In his opinion, the decision lies in the political plane - he called for a similar policy with companies that have directors of public figures who are in favor of anti-Russian sanctions. Then it can help change the trend. By the way, the president of USC also appeals to the solution of the problem with the help of high echelons of diplomatic and political power. But to designate the timing of the conclusion of a transaction or the rejection of it in the corporation did not.