SCM ‘asset freeze’ ruling does not prevent Akhmetov making divestments

8 Jan 2018 has published additional details of a Cypriot court decision – earlier reported by the UK’s Financial Times – which ostensibly ‘freezes’ USD820.6 million worth of assets belonging to Ukrainian conglomerate SCM, controlled by Ukraine’s richest businessman Rinat Akhmetov, including dominant national fixed line operator Ukrtelecom. A lawsuit from Raga Establishment Ltd (formerly Epic Telecom Invest Ltd) – owned by former Ukrainian banker Denis Gorbunenko – led to the District Court of Nicosia’s decision of 27 December 2017 in relation to the plaintiff’s claims on unpaid money from SCM’s purchase of Ukrtelecom in 2013, but points out that Akhmetov (and related structures and individuals) retains the right to freely dispose of assets if notifying the plaintiff seven working days before any transaction worth more than USD10 million. Alongside Ukrtelecom, assets identified in the court decision include Akhmetov’s London real estate, shares in Metinvest, DTEK, FUIB, Stadium Shakhtar, MMDS Ukraine and others (with around 50 items on the list in total). Akhmetov’s lawyers are due in court today (8 January 2018) to appeal.

Ukrtelecom was privatised in 2011 when a 92.79% stake was sold to Austrian fund Epic via holding vehicle Epic Services Ukraine (ESU), and in 2013 SCM took control of Ukrtelecom by purchasing ESU. However, in an additional holding company ownership transaction unpublicised at the time, prior to the SCM deal Epic sold ESU to Epic Telecom Invest Ltd (now Raga Establishment Ltd) which effectively resold it to SCM for roughly USD860 million, but according to Raga’s legal claim, it has received only an initial USD100 million tranche of the asking price from SCM.

Ukraine, Ukrtelecom (incl. TriMob)