Shareholders: Deripaska siphoned off $119m from GAZ automotive company

Shareholders: Deripaska siphoned off $119m from GAZ automotive company
Oleg Deripaska

The foundations run by Prosperity Capital accuse the businessman of using funds for other purposes, whereas since 2008 the company has not paid dividends.

Owners of 6.86% of the shares of Oleg Deripaska's GAZ group, which is part of the Russian Machines holding, have filed a lawsuit with the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court with the owner of the company and its president Vadim Sorokin. This is reported by RBC.

Minority shareholders, whose interests are represented by three funds managed by Prosperity Capital Management (The Prosperity Cub Fund, The Prosperity Quest Fund and The Russian Prosperity Fund), believe that Deripaska withdrew 11.45 billion rubles ($199m) from the company.

Prosperity Capital said that GAZ has not had funds to pay dividends to its shareholders for a number of years, but in the period from 2012 to 2014 the company regularly provides multibillion loans to firms affiliated with the main owner. So, in 2012, GAZ Group provided loans for a total of 4.4 billion rubles ($76.4m), in 2013 - 5.2 billion rubles ($90.4m) and in 2014 - 5.3 billion rubles ($92.1m), not particularly demanding their repayment. In 2015, the loan repayment of 3.4 billion rubles was postponed indefinitely. In 2016, the debt was repaid in the same way, while loans for another 5.7 billion rubles were depreciated, and this amount was lost to the company.

Thus, plaintiffs believe that the main shareholder paid dividends only to himself, bypassing the other shareholders. In turn, the GAZ group called it "far-fetched and unlawful". They explain that the provision of loans was to bring income from paying interest of several billion. And the company is still counting on their repayment. According to an employee of the press service of GAZ, this can happen after a change in the negative macroeconomic situation.

The company believes that Prosperity Capital intentionally destabilizes its activities with its claims.

Note, Prosperity Capital has already filed a lawsuit against the company in 2013, then the fund required more than 650 million rubles ($11.3m) to collect from the members of the Board of Directors of GAZ, but the court rejected this claim.

According to the international standards of financial accounting (IFRS), in 2016 net profit of GAZ amounted to 1.1 billion rubles, while the group's losses in previous years were 1.9 billion rubles ($33m) in 2015 and 2.1 billion rubles ($36.5m) in 2014. Last time the company paid dividends to owners of ordinary shares in 2008 - for 2007. For the remaining years only privileged shareholders received money.

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