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How Amurstal split: the plant was in the center of scandal
Old and new owners of the metallurgical plant in Komsomolsk blame each other for his problems
The only Amurstal electric smelter in the Far East in Komsomolsk-on-Amur again turned out to be the number one scandalous topic in the Khabarovsk Territory. Now the new owners of the enterprise decide his fate, and the old ones declare the danger to their life.
Amurstal is the only metallurgical plant in the Far East that produces steel using electric steel melting technology with further conversion to long products. More than three thousand people work there, for Komsomolsk it is one of the city-forming enterprises, therefore the changes taking place there have become an important topic for the region. The role was also played by the fact that the governor, or rather his wife Larisa Starodubova, was associated with the plant.
In 2017, the plant was sold to Torex-Khabarovsk based on trading results, production came to life - Amurstal increased production volumes every year, in two years smelting volumes grew six times, and 2019 was a record year at all - the plant showed results in 927 thousand tons. Tax revenues to the city and regional budgets also increased - last year both treasuries received a total of 378 million rubles. However, in November, everything changed - searches were conducted at the plant, after which problems began with the supply of raw materials and financing. As a result, a drop in production volumes.
At the same time, in Moscow on suspicion of murder, one of the owners of Amurstal Nikolai Mistryukov was detained. He is in a pre-trial detention center, but he was able (according to some reports through his spouse) to sell a 25% stake to another owner of Torex-Khabarovsk, Pavel Balsky. As a result, he received a 75% stake in the plant. The remaining 25% is owned by the wife of the governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Sergei Furgal Laris Starodubov.
From mid-February to March 1, Amurstal was idle, employees worked at 2/3 of the rate, now they are working normally. Production was suspended due to a shortage of scrap metal, the main raw material, but scrap supply resumed on February 28. According to the press service of Amurstal, EastRussia said that furnaces were launched at the enterprise this afternoon.
The new management of the plant arrived at the enterprise on February 27. On this day, the owners held an extraordinary board of directors, at which they decided to prematurely terminate the powers of CEO Sergey Kuznetsov. His place was taken by Grigory Freidin, representing the interests of Pavel Balsky and previously not working in the field of metallurgy.
Kuznetsov was offered the position of deputy general director in charge of production issues. He accepted this offer, but this week asked the police to protect him from communicating with Balsky. According to Sergey Kuznetsov, the owner of a 75 percent share of the plant demanded to inform the media that the ex-general director and former managers of the plant themselves brought it to a pre-bankrupt state. Kuznetsov refused and is now afraid for his life. According to Kuznetsov, Balsky exerted mental and moral pressure on him. Grigory Freidin has already stated that these reports are untrue.
Earlier, Larisa Starodubova asked the court to take interim measures in the form of a ban on holding a general meeting on the early termination of powers of Sergei Kuznetsov, but was refused.
Even before the meeting dedicated to the fate of the plant’s general director, three Amurstal executives wrote a letter of resignation - their posts, having received at a time eight of their average monthly salaries, left the first deputy general director Sergey Zyubr, deputy general director for security Dmitry Kozlov and deputy for financial and economic issues Olga Bushurova.
The new owners said that they started a change in the general director due to the financial problems of the enterprise - huge debts formed at the plant, which is why it faces bankruptcy. According to the press service of the enterprise, the owner of the 75% stake in Amurstal, Pavel Balsky, initiated a financial investigation; from March 15, the company will be audited by Baker Tilly. At the same time, the ex-general director reports that things got worse when the new management intervened in the factory’s affairs - banks with his arrival cut funding.
TO KEEP A PROMISE
In 2018, Balsky signed an agreement of intent to sell part of the plant’s assets to three Chinese companies, but then the co-owners of the enterprise opposed this, and the deal did not take place. After Balsky became the owner of the 75th share of Amurstal, many started talking about the implementation of the plan two years ago, but now Balsky himself refutes these rumors and declares that he will not sell the plant to companies from China.
Last fall, Balsky announced that he was ready to attract new credit lines in the amount of about two billion rubles to his enterprise under his guarantee. He does not give up his plans and is now looking for sources of financing.
The government of the Khabarovsk Territory had previously promised to support the enterprise. Since the authorities cannot give financial guarantees, they decided to create a collateral fund for the plant. They wanted to include objects and property that is in regional ownership, with a total value of about 130 billion rubles. Upon learning of this, the regional OFAS decided to hand over a warning to the regional authorities and in December they did it.
This week, in response to an EastRussia request, the press service of the regional government said that the fund was created not for a specific enterprise, but to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the region. It will be a new tool of assistance, since the government’s appearance as a financial guarantor for businesses in front of banks in obtaining loans can lead to an increase in the debt burden on the regional budget. Nevertheless, Amurstal’s help, even in connection with a change in the main owners, has not yet been refused.
“The authorities of the Khabarovsk Territory are waiting for the normalization of production processes at the Amurstal plant, as well as equalization of the financial situation of the enterprise, including the fulfillment of tax obligations by the new management. Since the Ministry of Industry of the Khabarovsk Territory oversees the work of industrial enterprises in the region and is interested in their economic stability, the agency will continue to monitor the production and financial performance of the plant, ”the regional government said.