Two comrades were serving: why billionaires Vekselberg and Abizov quarreled

The owner of Renova and the Minister for Open Government are suing each other in the Virgin Islands for $ 500 million. Who owes whom, and how much?
Origin source
In the late 1990s, at a meeting of the RSPP met shareholder of SUAL Viktor Vekselberg and deputy chairman of the board of directors "Novosibirskenergo" Michael Abizov.

Subsequently, between established friendly and then long-term business relationship that is now at risk of completed scandal. Two Forbes list of participants - the chairman of the board of directors of "Renova" Viktor Vekselberg and Minister for Open Government Mikhail Abizov - are suing the British Virgin Islands in an attempt to resolve the dispute about the $ 500 million Why billionaire quarrel two.?

Meeting at the RSPP was not accidental. Viktor Vekselberg as the owner of the aluminum holding SUAL was important to build a good relationship with Abyzov, who later went to work in RAO UES and was responsible for the payment of electricity (he could turn off consumers for debt). The cost of electricity - one of the main factors of the cost price of aluminum. The more that once RAO UES even disable one of the companies Vekselberg - Volgograd Aluminum Plant.

Business relations between the two business soon grew into a Jointstnye projects. In 2003 Abizov and Vekselberg decided together to create a business - for $ 35 million they had acquired 24% of "Regiongazholding", the company, which included regional gas distribution companies. This company later became part of the Integrated Energy Systems (IES), the holding company, which would later become a stumbling block in relations between the partners.

In 2005, RAO UES Abizov left, but a joint business continued. As the lawyers claim Vekselberg in 2007 Vekselberg and Abizov verbally agreed that they will share 85% of IES in the ratio of 51% and 49%. Its investment Abizov issued in the form of loans. His company - Romos and Fresko Financial - from 2006 to 2008, was transferred in favor of Vekselberg's Integrated Energy Systems Company and Renova Industries about $ 380 million with a rate of 9.5% per annum.

Location Abizov took this amount? Source in the market claims that in 2007 Abizov earned $ 290 million from the sale of "Rusal" cut "East", in which he has invested, together with Access Industries (Eurasia) Leonard Blavatnik. In addition, Abizov sold "Sibneft" "Novosibirsknefteproduct". Why loanwere executed as a share in the company?

"Loans were Abyzova condition that allegedly was connected with a certain conflict of interest", - says the source who knows both businessmen.

A source close to Abyzova denies conflict of interest. The parties signed an agreement in 2006, when Abizov retired from RAO UES and headed "KRU". At the time of reaching agreements and the allocation of funding from the IES Abyzova assets they were not structured, and belonged to different structures of the group "Renova". Loans guaranteed return on investment in the event that all agreements will not be realized, including arrangements for these companies the management system. All loans between billionaires issued on the same conditions.

The deal Abizov received "KES Holding" 41.65% of the shares, the remaining shares are owned by the Company and the General Director Viktor Vekselberg, Mikhail Slobodina IES. An important detail: the shareholders' agreement was not executed on paper. People from the surrounding Abyzova argue that the paper had not been decorated because of red tape in the "Renova". According to the nrtnera Paragon Advice Group Alexander Zakharov, to prove such an oral option is difficult, but in a number of courts in British law between Russian billionaires verbal agreements are taken into account by the judges.

The deal with "Gazprom"

In 2008, IES any big problems. The energy business has stalled - the demand for electricity fell, increased government regulation, the margin fell to almost zero, the availability of credit has decreased sharply.

Vekselberg and "Renova" IES provided a guarantee that allowed the energy company to restructure its debt to Sberbank, and saved the company, said a source who knows both businessmen. In the crisis period 2009-2010, the percentage of the share Abyzova was diluted by buying Vekselberg TGK and OGK his Panamanian company Lamesa Holding - these papers also became part of the IES. And by 2011, according to the person from the environment Abyzova, Vekselberg said that the share of the partner should be reduced to 27%.

The already difficult situation confused the impending deal to sell IES "Gazprom energy" (hereinafterGEH). In 2011, Vekselberg wanted to sell IES subsidiary of "Gazprom". Under the deal, all IES estimated at $ 4 billion. This amount was twice more than accounted for the investment of shareholders IES and Vekselberg had to immediately get 25 billion rubles.

Management of "Gazprom" would like to Vekselberg, has solved the problem with the second shareholder.

Therefore Abizov in May of 2011, received a letter from the representative of "Renova" Vladimir Kuznetsov, where he was asked to get all the money on the loans.
The parties nonetheless agreed to bring the transaction to the end. To cope with this situation, in September of 2011, Vekselberg and Abizov agreed (again verbally) that Abizov gets "put option." - The right to withdraw from the CES for $ 451 million This amount corresponds to its size of investment with interest, but on the basis of evaluation of IES in the transaction with "Gazprom energy" value of the share was Abyzova twice. An option was also not attached to the deal.

Why Abizov chose such a complicated instrument? According to a source in his entourage, he felt that such a scheme nailucheePWM protects its cash investments. Sami verbal agreements have been reflected in a written agreement, which is valid Vekselberg party acknowledges in court.

The planned large-scale transaction between GEH and IES has caused complaints from officials. Bad deal in favor of the FAS Igor Artemyev, head, Elvira Nabiullina, while the head of Economic Development, as well as the former head of RAO UES Anatoly Chubais. As a result, 30-40% of European electricity wholesale zone would be monopolized.

But officials fear proved groundless. Unfortunately for Vekselberg, the deal fell through. After lengthy negotiations, the head of "Gazprom" Alexey Miller has decided to abandon the acquisition of IES, considering it unprofitable.

On concepts and without

A new twist in the story occurred in June 2013, when the company presented Abyzova 105 structures Vekselberg "put option" for execution. According to their calculations, Vekselberg had to withdraw from the company for $ 451 million.

Why is this claim arose only in 2013? At the request of "Renova", assertionszhdaet people from surrounding Abyzova, "at CES earlier had problems with financing." In the spring of 2013, Vekselberg, together with its partners successfully sold its stake in TNK-BP state "Rosneft". The biggest in the history of Russian business transaction brought the head of "Renova" $ 7 billion.

Offer to exercise the option, it seems, caused a mixed reaction among Vekselberg 3. "Since 2011 Abizov, unlike Vekselberg and his partners do not invest in the IES, and the relationship soured when he demanded the return of the share on the face value and the dollar," - sets his version of the source familiar with the two businessmen.

"Vekselberg and his associates considered this behavior is not a partnership and conceptual point of view, the available violate the agreement."

Not surprisingly, exercise the option of Vekselberg's no hurry. In order to prevent the presentation of the option, the employees were not allowed lawyers Vekselberg Abyzova, private bailiff (bailiff), as well as DHL couriers in the building in Cyprus, where the office of Vekselberg's company was located.

Typically, the contract stated as dollarswives be presented the option, said Alexander Zakharov of Paragon Advice Group. "The notification shall take authorized person of the option, and it is necessary to present to him. If you were not allowed on the threshold of the building, in the court to prove that the other party shied away from obligations, "- he explains.

Vekselberg's lawyers, however, found another solution to the problem.

In the personal plane

Thirteenth December 2013 Vekselberg's company filed a lawsuit in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), that is, in an offshore zone, the company's Abyzova, trying to challenge the right to exercise of the option. Forbes was able to get acquainted with a part of the two writs - from December 2013 and June 2014, submitted to the BVI.

According to a source in Abyzova environment in person Vekselberg Abyzov allegedly he said that the return loans will not work, as assets on the companies that received them, is no more.

Six months later, followed by a counter-claim in the same offshore jurisdiction. In contrast to the business partner Abizov and his company filed a personal lawsuit against Vekselberg in the amount of $ 500 million (the amount includes loans andHakob interest on them). In the event of such a claim Vekselberg would meet all of its assets, including the "Renova". The court agreed to draw Vekselberg as a defendant.

"The dispute originally did not go beyond a corporate dispute, but suddenly became personally Abyzova lawsuit against Vekselberg, - said a source familiar with the position of the parties. - Translation of personal relationships in the plane, and even in the off-shore vessels, unprecedented. "

"Nobody puts Abyzova investments under doubt. But you need to decide, he is engaged in usury or enterprise! "

"It seems that Michael decided to convert Partnership stupid to make money on the partner, and they are two very different things," - said the source.

A source close to Abyzova believes that assertion is contrary to the original corporate dispute the claim Vekselberg's companies, where it was stated that it is a verbal agreement about investments in IES - "it has been concluded between the person and Vekselberg Abyzov, not their companies." Therefore, in accordance with the procedures of the court was of stimulated BVI Abizovden get his party to execute the option. "Representatives Vekselberg entangled in their filings with the court, - says a source close to Abyzova. - In the latest lawsuit, they have already begun to assert, in June 2014, that Vekselberg had not entered into any agreements with Abyzov. Obviously, such a radical change of position is dictated by the desire not to attract Vekselberg personally accountable. "

Viktor Vekselberg, declined to comment for this story for Forbes. Mikhail Abyzov, Forbes answering the question about the nature of relations with Vekselberg, said he repeatedly offered to negotiate out of court and to resolve the dispute with the help of "independent arbitrators with high reputation, which the parties to fully trust." Moreover, Abizov agreed to hire as an arbitrator a person close to Vekselberg, his classmate and business partner, Leonard Blavatnik, but the owner of "Renova" refused.

Despite the current situation, Mikhail Abizov hopes that the parties will manage to reach an agreement out of court and "safeguard the normal relationship. "