The conflict between the shareholders of Petropavlovsk PLC, a London-based gold mining company with operations in Russia, is turning into a banal corporate raid on assets. It is noteworthy that situation is unfolding not somewhere in the taiga, but in the Russian capital. On August 26, Maxim Meshcheryakov, acting CEO of the company, accompanied by tough guys broke into the office of AO Pokrovsky Rudnik, a subsidiary company of Petropavlovsk PLC.
In July, a group of Petropavlovsk PLC’ shareholders voted against the re-election of Pavel Maslovsky, the company's founder, to the board of directors. Accordingly, proceeding from his position in the board, Maslovsky left the post of CEO. It is said that for the time being, the shareholders have elected Maxim Mescheryakov the company’s acting CEO.
However, the question arises if they have appointed him for real.
The morning conflict at the guard desk in the office of Pokrovsky Rudnik began with the fact that in response to the demands of the security staff to show documents, Meshcheryakov and people accompanying him, said that from now on, they are the owners of the building. However, no documents were showed to prove it. After jumping over the turnstile, Meshcheryakov's companions entered the building and grabbed the guards’ pass cards that gave them access to the rest of the premises.
Even the node of the situation of this kind raises strong doubts that Meshcheryakov is really going to run the company for a long time. His supporters say that he was not allowed into the office where he was going to take up his duties. Allegedly, he almost got beaten up. Was it possible given the presence of tough guys by his side? It is highly unlikely. If he had any relevant documents, he would have come not with a “combat team,” but with them and lawyers. If he was accompanied by the fighters in advance, then he thought that he would have to take the office by force.
After that, the situation looked like a corporate raid but not like the appointment of a new top executive.
After seizing the pass cards that gave access to the building, Meshcheryakov’s people started walking around the premises. They “knocked on the doors of the offices, yelled, used force and insulted employees not letting them into the office.” The workers of the Asian-Pacific Bank, which rents premises in this business center, were forced out of the building. The bank's property, cash register and office equipment were left without security. It is reported that, after showing everyone out of the building, “unidentified individuals led by Maxim Meshcheryakov stayed inside the office and blocked the exit from the garage.”
It remains unknown how long Meshcheryakov is going to be under siege and what the office will look like after he leaves it. However, in accordance with the documents which Meshcheryakov himself is quoting, he was appointed to the position of CEO of Petropavlovsk PLC and has the right to represent its interests in relation to all companies of the group. With these powers, he can “do whatever he wants” in relation to all employees and property owned by Petropavlovsk PLC.
Given the fact that he has taken the office with fanfare, the powers of this kind are likely to spell disaster to Petropavlovsk PLC. All the more so because there was another conflict between Meshcheryakov and the independent trade union of Pokrovsky Rudnik’s employees. They doubted his professional background. Therefore, chances are they will refuse to follow his instructions.
Meanwhile, the legal department of Pokrovsky Rudnik has already stated that the building, located in Rubtsov lane in Moscow, belongs to Pokrovsky Rudnik as property.
“According to extracts from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Maxim Meshcheryakov is not the company's CEO,” the statement said. “The lawfully elected board of directors of Pokrovsky Rudnik did not appoint M.G. Mescheryakov as the sole executive agent. It was impossible to legally change CEOs of Pokrovsky Rudnik, as this required the incorporation documents that were in the possession of the company and were not transferred to third parties. No powers of attorney were issued in the name of M.G. Meshcheryakov. Thus, he has no rights to dispose of the company's property or to give orders to its employees.”
In conclusion, there is only question as usual, namely, where are the police looking? Well, it is known that a squad of the National Guard of Russia arrived at the company, accepted the statements of the two sides about the incident and left.