Back in August 2007, Gazmetall (now Metalloinvest) bought a total of only 0.53% of Lebedinsky GOK's shares from minority shareholders through a procedure established by law.
You Don't Wave Shares After Buyout
According to the report of the independent appraiser, at the time of the buyout, the market value of the shares was 5,383.29 rubles ($70.12), but the owner of 99.47% of Lebedinsky GOK made an offer to buy the remaining shares from its minority shareholders for 8,015.19 rubles ($104.41) per share. Thus, the share of profits amounted to almost 50% of the market price.
The thousands of ex-shareholders who received an obvious benefit were satisfied with the successful outcome of the deal. The specialized media were lavishing with positive evaluations of the buyout procedure. According to Ivan Streshinsky, chairman of Metalloinvest's board of directors, “many of the minority shareholders received millions of dollars in compensation for their shares that allowed them to buy cars, real estate, and other things. So everyone was happy.”
It would seem that this was the end of the story, but within a year, it continued unexpectedly and absurdly in the sort of the well-known tale of the young man who buried gold coins in a field of miracles.
It turns out that six months after the deal, the iron ore went up 65% in price, and the minority shareholders ordered a new appraisal from a local firm, which determined the company's value at almost three times the offer price, 23,500 rubles ($306.11) per share. Thus, according to the official estimate, Lebedinsky GOK's value would have been an incredible $17.4 billion instead of $4 billion in 2007. The buyout payments from minority shareholders were made at a price at which the company's capitalization would have been about $6 billion.
Madness and Courage
To illustrate the absurdity of this new estimate, let us note that in 2007, Forbes estimated the entire wealth of Metalloinvest's main shareholder Alisher Usmanov at $5.6 billion, which is more than three times less than the value of the Belgorod Region combine alone was allegedly worth.
Despite this, several minority shareholders believed in the existence of a “time machine” and “justice” by Ostap Bender's standards. It led to 16 trials, held between 2008 and 2013, which ingloriously ended for the minority shareholders in the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation. To the surprise of the plaintiffs, the courts of all instances confirmed Metalloinvest's full compliance with the buyout procedure and the compliance of the buyout price with the requirements of Russian law. It became obvious that there was no point in litigating further, but the ex-shareholders decided to continue their fight under the motto “madness and courage.” Inspired by the scam artists who usually pop up like mushrooms after a spring rain around not very competent security holders, they turned to pressure, extortion and slander. Threatening letters to Metalloinvest and its management became one of the tools of the “struggle.”
A new hero stepped forward. Dmitry Gololobov, a former lawyer of the infamous Yukos, was internationally wanted back in 2004. In the Interpol database, he was listed as wanted in Russia on charges of embezzlement and legalization of illegally acquired funds from the balance sheet of YUKOS and their subsequent laundering.
Before being declared wanted, Dmitry worked untiringly in the legal department of Yukos. He eventually became one of the dozens of persons involved in the investigation but managed to leave Russia. Since 2004, he has been in London. At the same time, other members of the Yukos legal department were put in prison. Vasily Aleksanyan died of a serious illness, and Svetlana Bakhmina spent behind bars for more than seven years. The head and majority shareholder of Yukos is also known to have served time and gone abroad, as did three other shareholders. A little later, it became known that it was Dmitry Gololobov who testified in an American court against the former owners of the oil company, betraying his former patrons, for which Mikhail Khodorkovsky's former lawyer Pavel Ivlev had no scruple to call him a “scumbag.”
Only few Days
Gololobov, who still lives in London, most likely became one of the ideological inspirations behind Metalloinvest's new informational blackmail campaign. Andrei Ivanov, another activist in the group, lives also abroad, but is known to have worked at Lebedinsky GOK for “only a few days” and has a small stake of 22 shares.
Andrei Burkin, another former minority shareholder, is the spokesperson of the minority shareholders at public events, but unlike Ivanov, he is unable to travel abroad and still resides in the Belgorod region. By the way, he mainly performs on the air of the odious Internet project. Today, it became known that Metalloinvest filed a lawsuit against them.
So, the company's promises “to take all measures required by law to prosecute the criminals and to protect the legal rights and interests of Lebedinsky GOK, Metalloinvest, their employees, partners, and management” have started to come true.