Zherebtsov will play solo in pharma
Pharmaceutical company Solopharm may drown in debt, despite bravura reports, and its owner will soon leave the Russian Federation.
The pharmaceutical company Solopharm (Solopharm, the main legal entity - Groteks LLC) announced personnel changes. The founder and key beneficiary of the structure, Oleg Zherebtsov, known for his, frankly, flawed partners and thirst for budget money, resigned as CEO. His place was taken by Pavel Semyanov, before that - the financial director of the group.
In the company itself, the change was associated with the expansion of the business - they say, Zherebtsov is no longer able to quickly manage it. But he will remain the head of the Board of Directors - i.e. he will deal with strategic issues. But given the bunch of scandals around Solofarm and the offshore nature of the business, there could be other reasons: up to the possible decision of Zherebtsov to leave the country and fears of sanctions risks.
The Sankt-Petersburg Post understood the situation.
Oleg Zherebtsov is one of the most famous entrepreneurs in St. Petersburg, consistently included in the top 500 richest businessmen in the city. At one time, at the beginning of the 90s, he became the founder of the Lenta retailer, with which many problems were subsequently associated, including corporate conflicts.
Solopharm, at first glance, is difficult to suspect of any systemic problems: the group's revenue and net profit grow from year to year. At the end of 2022, Groteks LLC for 768 million rubles with revenue of 18 billion and asset values of 1.5 billion rubles.
Moreover, the company is expanding: recently, at its site in the northern capital, the foundation was laid for a new plant for the production of hormonal drugs with an investment level of 4 billion rubles.
Help than a grave
But what Mr. Zherebtsov lacks is budget support. What he often and directly talks about. Moreover, we are talking not only about direct support, but also about indirect support. For example, the pharmaceutical magnate complained that the Ministry of Health refuses to raise registration prices for vital drugs (list of vital drugs), lamenting that because of this, problems may arise with their sale and production.
Or maybe the problem is that Zherebtsov is not allowed to break prices for medicines, which people cannot do without, and therefore they will still spend the last money on them?
As for budget funds, Solofarm has been making good money on state contracts for a long time. True, compared to other pharmaceutical giants, the amount is not very large, although it is solid - 171 million rubles.
At the same time, a huge number of contracts were not fulfilled to the end. Others have been on performance for about five years, since 2018. How to understand this, the supply of drugs, stretched for such a period?
For example, the contract of 2017 with the St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University for 1.1 million rubles was terminated by agreement of the parties ahead of schedule. At the same time, the company received the full amount under the contract. So delivered, or not?
It is also interesting that wanting favors from the Ministry of Health, Zherebtsov's holding is in no hurry to comply with the requirements of laws governing the pharmaceutical industry. For example, in 2019, Solofarm appealed to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Sergei Tsyb, saying that he did not have time to introduce drug labeling on time and asked for a delay in the onset of mandatory labeling for the company until May 2020.
That is, they manage to receive money, but not to adapt to the requirements of the legislation?
Apparently, the "cry of Zherebtsov's soul" about budgetary support was associated with the desire for such "stretched" contracts as rubber to become more from Solopharm. And he is ready to share this money not with ordinary residents of St. Petersburg (for example, by lowering prices), but with his top managers, to whom not so long ago he transferred part of the shares of Groteks LLC.
Previously, all 100% of LLC belonged to the Cypriot offshore company Awkviya.LTD. Now more than 2% are stuffed into the pockets of close team members. For example, the general director of Groteks, Simbiom LLC, Eganui Aghajanyan, had 0.4% (where she owns 20% of the structure).
At the same time she, Agadzhanyan, was the CEO of nowadays liquidated firm on trade in drugs of LLC Pharmatrix earlier. And this Ltd company, strangely enough, too it was it is tied to offshore business - the Cyprian firm "Kompaniya Unimatrix Venchurs Limited".
Whether there is money of Solofarm in Russia, especially those which Zherebtsov and To receive on state contacts?
Money is, but you keep
Continuing a subject of budget support, Zherebtsovs dissembles a little. State banks regularly grant him the loans. In 2018 he received 1.5 billion rubles from Sberbank on production expansion. I.e. they walk not on the, and on budgetary funds.
Shortly before it Sberbank agreed to restructure Solofarm debt in 4 billion rubles to St. Petersburg bank where the state also has a share. But in general he is connected with family of the speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko. Why in bank so easily agreed to restructuring? Whether people from Matviyenko's environment give to Zherebtsov "informal" support?
It suggests an idea that at the company everything is absolutely not as good as it is tried to be presented. Because in at financial stability the restructuring of the credits and ambulance of the State Bank isn't required.
And especially in a strong position hardly someone will try to make bankrupt you. And Solofarm tried. In 2021 the corresponding claim for a debt to 45 million rubles to Solofarm was submitted by JSC Usolye-Siberian Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant. Writes Novy Avenue about it.
The sum of requirements wasn't specified and bankruptcy didn't happen, but a call very disturbing. And not the first - in 2020 the holding sued also other contractors, however, for the smaller sums. And with all I concluded the settlement agreement. What can draw a conclusion? The same - the enterprise is obviously loaded with debt. Moreover - a few years ago shares of Grotex were in pledge at state Sberbank and Gazprombank.
I.e. the state not just helps Solofarm. It saved him in a critical situation of a lack of means.
Partners with a criminal musty smell
And there is a natural question - and why the state? Zherebtsov has wonderful partners and investors. For example, the notorious investment fund "Baring East" which is set up by Michael Kalvi.
They became partners in 2016 when structures "Baring Vostok" received 33% of Cyprian Neloviya. They had to enclose several billions in the St. Petersburg plant of Solofarm. That is it turns out that funds from government contracts could leave, including, Michael Kalvi's team.
Kalvi received criminal record for waste about 2.5 billion rubles of means of Vostochny bank recently. As follows from the evidence, the group for embezzlement was created in 2015. Almost coincidence: whether this money was spent for entering into Solofarm, and then to sponsor the plant?
It is possible to remember also other wonderful partners of Zherebtsov. For example, Augustus Meyer together with whom he based and nearly 20 years I owned retailer "Lenta". At the same time, according to authors the Telegram channel Banksta, Meyer allegedly the raider. And what, Zherebtsov worked 20 years with such person, and saw nothing?
At the end of the zero years he sold business to Meyer, and ill-wishers in network spread rumors, allegedly Meyer could receive shares in almost raider way.
Considering that Zherebtsov worked with him nearly 20 years, and then at once I started other big business, this version looks doubtfully. But Meyer as a result was under investigation. Augustus Meyer, his spouse and some more the related persons are accused of especially large fraud. According to the investigators, he brought out of Ulmart on the controlled organizations the credit of Sberbank of 1 billion rubles.
Whether his former colleague Oleg Zherebtsov could follow his example (if it is proved)?
And besides Ulmart, Augustus Meyer owns retailer "Rive Gauche". This retailer has also other founder, in recent time the assistant to the Chief of Presidential Administration Kirill Molodtsov (I resigned in 2021).
Earlier The Moscow Post repeatedly assumed that mister Molodtsov and his family can be the hidden beneficiaries of the huge business earning from government contracts on transportation of oil products.
So maybe Zherebtsov will ask for support not from the state, but from Michael Calvey, or the former partner of August Meyer, or a major official Molodtsov associated with him in the past?
Lack of creativity
And against this background, Solofarm has other problems. For example, showdowns with competitors for drug patents. In 2021, NTFF Polisan LLC filed a lawsuit against Grotex. The plaintiff asked to prohibit Groteks LLC from taking actions aimed at registering Flatocin, which is a generic drug produced by the Polisan Cytoflavin NTFF.
The claim was denied, but during the play they could impose interim measures on the property of Solofarm, which could have an extremely bad effect on the company's affairs. Then it passed. And in 2022, as Delovoy Petersburg writes, a new lawsuit followed for about the same reason.
In addition, there were other proceedings. In 2018, Dr.Jung accused Solopharm of stealing the idea after winning the firm's creative tender to advertise the drug Angidak. However, in the end, the contract was concluded with another company, and Dr.Jung considered that she had simply stolen an advertising idea.
It looks ugly, and suggests that such methods in Zherebtsov's estate may be considered acceptable. In any case, obviously, the company is not going as well as they are trying to imagine. In the conditions of debt load and possible claims of Sberbank, as well as a bunch of counterparties and partners, Zherebtsov could consider the best outcome for himself to leave the business on top managers, and move away from management himself. Perhaps soon we will see him on the offshore shores of Cyprus so close to him.