Matvienko's secret business | Latest news The Moscow Post
11 July 2020

Matvienko's "secret" business

Can Erkapharm avoid paying debts consisting of billions that it could buy back together with another pharmacy chain?

As the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports, Erkapharm GC, which is supposedly associated with Sergei Matvienko, is now "answerable" for the Rosta pharmacy chain, which was purchased several years ago. Creditors of the latter one demand more than 5 billion rubles of debts from Erkapharm. The pharmacy chain did not plan to pay that much money, did it?

Erkapharm GC bought the united pharmacy chain Raduga-Pervaya Pomoshch-Ladushka of the Rosta group in 2017. In terms of the number of outlets, the Rosta chain was almost three times as large as Erkapharm: 1,048 pharmacies participated in the deal, while Erkapharm had at least four hundred ones. Then the company entered 27 new regions at once. But along with the enlarged business there appeared major problems in the form of billions of debts. Erkapharm doesn't seem to be going to pay them, does it?

Now the companies which are requiring indemnification can even try to challenge the deal between Rosta and Erkopharm itself. If they succeed, it might seriously affect the entire pharmacy market, where opaque transactions are often conducted.

The assets which are supposedly linked to Sergei Matvienko have not been presented in the best possible light lately. Recently, the FAS has found signs of unfair competition in the pharmacy chains Samson Pharma and Doctor Stoletov, which, as market participants say, is being developed by Erkapharm.

As it turned out, these pharmacies have found a very interesting way to sell medical masks: only in the amount of at least five pieces and exclusively complete with other products, for the purchase of which customers, in fact, did not apply. If people needed more than five masks, they had to buy two or more sets. This was reported by TASS.

Inexplicable success

The Erkapharm "rise" happened as if overnight. The company appeared in 1994 and more or less existed all 2000s, slowly gaining momentum. However, after the estimated purchase of the company by Matvienko's structures in 2013, the GC was waiting for a resounding success.

The company immediately began to buy up and crush its competitors. Already in 2013, Erkapharm closed its first major deal - it acquired the St. Petersburg chain of discount pharmacies Ozerki from its founders, pharmacists Dmitry Anikiev and Olga Anikieva. Then there were rumors that the Anikievs were "pushed" by the Smolny.

Could Valentina Matvienko, who worked as the Governor of St. Petersburg, have a hand in this?

As a result, in 2015-2018, revenue "jumped" by 40% per year. If at the end of 2017, the company earned 4.1 billion rubles, then in 2018 - already 11 billion rubles.

According to RBC, in 2018, Erkapharm structures also acquired Samson Pharma. In July 2018, a certain Alexander Larin became the owner of the company. According to Kommerssant, he represents the interests of Erkapharm GC. Since March 2018, Armine Danielyan has been the CEO of Samson-Pharma, who also holds the Commercial Director position of Erkapharm.

At the same time Erkafarm has not confirmed the deal — they practically do not give any comments at all. What is the reason of  such secrecy? The owners seem to be ashamed of their success!

Opaque owners

The fact that Sergey Matvienko owns pharmaceutical assets is not directly mentioned anywhere - although all market participants gossip about it. According to RBC, in 2012 the company Erkapharm was bought by a certain Haden S.A, which acted in the interests of Imperia-Pharma CJSC, part of the Imperia holding. That's what Sergei Matvienko allegedly had to do with.

The CEO of Imperia-Pharma is Omar Gurtskaya, who may be a relative of singer Zara, ex-wife of Sergey Matvienko. It is rumored that Matvienko was also often seen communicating with Gurtskaya at social parties.

In other words, it is a mystery. The true owners of these assets are kept secret. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that the business is too close to those people who can not have any relation to entrepreneurship on duty.

Especially since it seems that the dealers have something to hide.

While having a look at the subsidiaries of Erkapharm, there involuntarily arises an assumption that funds can be laundered from these places. Some of them make people think about the signs of fictitiousness.

For example, in 2018, the St. Petersburg subsidiary of LLC Erkapharm Neva earned 1.6 billion rubles, but was at a loss of 38 million rubles.

Approximately the same picture has the company LLC Farmvolga - on revenue of 1.7 billion rubles - minus 57 million profit. These indicators often show that money is being withdrawn.

Moreover, LLC Pokrovka and the now-liquidated LLC Muranovskoye appeared to be two legal successors of CJSC Erkapharm last year.

HADEN S.A. from Luxembourg is at the head of both these structures. There is a feeling that assets are deliberately divided so that funds are withdrawn to offshore companies through them.

Intricate ownership chains, as a rule, are dictated by the desire to "loose ends", "cover up" possible theft or fraud. And Sergei Matvienko's business is peculiarly "intricate"…

Remember, for example, the story concerning airports. In 2017, a confrontation between the city administration and the Federal Government unfolded in Sevastopol. Then 1.7 billion rubles, along with the transfer of Sevastopol's Belbek airport to Simferopol airport, actually "went" to Crimea.

The right for its reconstruction was granted by a previously unknown Simferopol international airport LLC with an authorized capital of only 10 thousand rubles. As The Moscow Post expected, this company could be controlled by the now-liquidated CJSC Imperia, where Sergey Matvienko was the founder, through a chain of other ones.

In fact, the businessman could get a project with 32 billion rubles of preferential loans and budget injections then. It is assumed that 30% of this amount will be investment money, and another 70% - "credit" money from officially operating banks on the Peninsula, including the RNCB and Russia Bank. In addition, Matvienko, presumably, could dispose of those 1.7 billion rubles.

However,  we will not get to know for sure whether this is true or not. If Sergey Matvienko even hides that he may be related to one of the leaders of the pharmaceutical market in the country, then he will clearly disown the absorption of billions for the reconstruction of the airport.

Fears which the scion of the Head of the Federation Council experiences are clear – there is no need to come into the "spotlight" extra time.

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