14 Mar 2024 09:19

Ukraine's Kernel does not rule out listing on different exchange after WSE delisting

MOSCOW. March 14 (Interfax) - The CEO of leading Ukrainian sunflower oil producer Kernel Holding S.A. (Luxembourg) said he still believes the agribusiness group's decision to delist from the Warsaw Stock Exchange, which is being disputed in court by minority shareholders, is the right move, but he does not rule out the company's return to an exchange in future.

"One must understand that at some stage the Polish exchange became not the most optimal exchange specifically for Kernel to remain on. This doesn't mean that after the delisting we won't see Kernel on some other exchange in a few years. There are many other exchanges in the world," Ukrainian media reported Yevgeny Osipov as saying in an interview posted on YouTube on Wednesday.

Osipov called the delisting "logical moves that will enable the company to develop better and be more mobile."

"We have certainly not taken a single step that would violate any norms. Sometimes investors make money, sometimes they lose. That's business. It's built on capital," Osipov said, commenting on minority shareholders' criticism of the buyout price for their shares.

"We at the company work to balance the interests of shareholders, employees and creditors. There are three groups of stakeholders. We must fairly ensure them the efficiency of the company as a whole," Osipov said.

Namsen Limited, the company of Kernel founder and board chairman Andrei Verevsky, increased its stake in the group from 41.3% to 74.05% in a buyback offer announced in March 2023 with a view to subsequently delisting Kernel from the Warsaw exchange. As a result of an issue of 216 million new shares initiated by Verevsky in August 2023, Namsen acquired another 212.6 million shares and in November it acquired another 1.2 million, increasing Verevsky's stake to 94.37% of voting shares taking into account treasury stock.

In May 2023, Namsen bought Kernel shares at a price of PLN18.50 ($4.47 at the rate at the time) per share, while the company's IPO in 2007 was priced at PLN24 per share. The new share issue that was almost completely bought up by Namsen last August was placed at $0.2777 per share, and the buyout from minority shareholders last November was priced at $1.875 per share.

Kernel's shares on the WSE are currently trading at PLN12.28 ($3.14 at the current exchange rate).

A group of eight minority shareholders with a combined 0.4% of Kernel shares have appealed to a court in Luxembourg to challenge the board of directors' decision to delist the company and subsequent decisions on the additional share placement. The first preliminary hearing in one of the lawsuits is scheduled for March 18.

The Polish regulator has suspended proceedings in the delisting case until the court in Luxembourg issues a verdict.

Kernel is one of Ukraine's largest producers of bottled vegetable oil and a major producer and exporter of sunflower oil. The group also cultivates and sells other agricultural products.