26 May 2023 10:46

Otkritie Holding receiver seeks 12 bln rubles from Lukoil on AGD Diamonds deal

MOSCOW. May 26 (Interfax) - JSC Otkritie Holding receiver Maria Bulatova wants Lukoil to pay the "difference" on disputed transactions related to the oil company's sale of diamond miner AGD Diamonds in 2017.

Bulatova said in a statement published on Fedresurs that she is seeking "to apply the consequences of the partial invalidity [of a number of transactions carried out in 2016-2017]" by collecting 12.05 billion rubles from Lukoil. This is the amount at which Bulatova estimates the difference between the funds that Otkritie Holding paid Lakover Trading Limited on loan agreements dated May 17 and 23, 2017 and the value of the claims acquired under them.

The transactions to change the owner of AGD Diamonds are related to these loan agreements, Bulatova said. She is seeking to have them declared invalid to the extent of the "difference" she wants to collect from Lukoil.

Lukoil told Interfax that the "company is the good faith seller in the transaction related to the divestment of 100% of shares in [ADG Diamonds] to a subsidiary of JSC Otkritie Holding and will take appropriate measures to protect its legal interests by all available means."

AGD Diamonds, formerly known as Arkhangelskgeoldobycha, is the only diamond miner in Russia independent of Alrosa , and accounts for about 10% of the country's output. The company mines the Grib pipe, the fourth largest in Russia and eighth largest in the world by reserves.

Lukoil sold AGD Diamonds to Otkritie Industrial Investments LLC in 2017 for $1.45 billion. The deal was partly financed by state bank VTB , which provided a loan of $873 million, secured by 100% of shares in AGD's buyer.

Otkritie Holding was one of Russia's largest financial groups until 2017, when Otkritie Bank and Trust Bank, the financial turnaround of which it was handling, were taken over by the Central Bank of Russia. Now the group's main asset is AGD Diamonds.

In 2020, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) demanded to reverse the deal because, when it bought AGD, Otkritie Holding concealed from the regulator that the company had three shareholders with foreign citizenship.

Furthermore, the regulator believed the price of the deal was twice as high as it should have been. Considering that the group's main asset at the time was Otkritie Bank, which had to be bailed out by the Central Bank a few months later, the disputed deal could have concealed bank funds being funnelled to the holding's beneficiaries with foreign citizenship, the FAS said at the time.

The court proceedings lasted for more than two years and ended in July 2020 with a settlement, the terms of which were not disclosed, because at the request of the parties the final court hearing was held behind closed doors.

"In addition to the purchase of shares for $1.05 billion, as part of the structure of the deal AGD debt to Lukoil totalling $400 million was repaid and a trading company was acquired for $170 million. However, the market price of the company at the time of the deal, in our estimate, was no more than $700 million," Trust said earlier.