The Dagestan wrestlers how Kerimov, and Magomedov fight for the port in Makhachkala

A view of the port of Makhachkala

Partial victory

The arbitration court of Dagestan has partially satisfied the claim of the little-known Cypriot company Arolia Holdings Limited, which was trying to recover from the port 678,18 million rubles, according to the website of the court. The decision was made on Wednesday, August 31.

The court ordered port only 156 million rubles, said RBC assistant General Director of the enterprise Alikber Abdulgamidov. This amount is comparable with the net profit of the company, which last year amounted to 161.5 million rubles, while revenue in 657,44 million rubles (data SPARK-Interfax”).

Debt to Cypriot offshore arose after the creditor port of Sberbank in 2013, ceded to him the right to claim, provided with cranes, vessels and other port property. A source close to Sberbank, said earlier RBC that at the time with interest debt is estimated around 600 million rubles”. The Bank sold it because the loan has not been serviced.

Abdulgamidov did not specify how it was possible to reduce the amount of claims more than quadrupled, but acknowledged that “debts should be paid. With a representative of the Arolia Holdings could not be reached.

A lawsuit that threatens the port of the loss of a significant number of assets, perhaps indicating that the new level long-term struggle for control of the Makhachkala port between the two largest Dagestani businessmen Suleiman Kerimov and Ziyavudin Magomedov.

Kerimov is trying to take control of this port since the mid 2000-ies, when he became a major philanthropist and investor. But the privatization of the company several years was postponed: it is still the Federal state and managed by the Agency of Maritime and river transport (Rosmorrechflot). However, the port can actually be controlled through the CEO, whose candidate is headed, and he gets the control over the activities of the enterprise. Since September 2010, the port was led by the CEO, who was considered the man Kerimov. But at the end of may 2016, with the expiry of his term of office, Rosmorrechflot held a contest and appointed a new leader who is considered a protege Magomedov, 2013 become involved in the fight for influence in the Republic and, in particular, for control of the port.

Export channel

The Makhachkala port is the only ice-free port on the Caspian sea. Its share in the Russian market is small: if the total turnover of ports in 2015 (676,7 million tons) in Makhachkala were shipped only 3.8 million tons, of which oil and oil products and 3.4 million tonnes (data Port News). But through this port are transferred in the oil produced from the Russian, Turkmen and Kazakh companies in the Caspian sea, which then is exported through the pipeline Makhachkala — Novorossiysk, says development Director Port News Nadezhda Malysheva: “This explains such a struggle for the port: his owner will be able to influence the regional export of oil.”

And the port has prospects. In late April, the then CEO of the port Ahmed Hajiyev said that the port is ready to resume ferry communication with Iran after the lifting of sanctions and has already prepared the equipment for the reception of up to 200 refrigerated containers per month. According to him, the capacity of the port of Makhachkala is 11.4 million tons per year, of which oil and oil products — 7.9 million tons Capacity grain terminal of the port is 0.5 million tons per year, he added. The lifting of sanctions against Iran intensified shipping may be increased transshipment of oil and other commodities, recognizes Malysheva. However, the port the infrastructure is poorly developed, so the goods will have to carry on dry land (in contrast to Astrakhan, where possible transport by rivers).

The port of Makhachkala already lost one of the major clients operating in the Caspian sea, oil and gas company LUKOIL. LUKOIL found a more interesting direction of crude oil through Baku, told RBC a source in the company: cause reorientation of supply — economic.

Hope to hire

The debt of the port of Makhachkala to Sberbank was established in 2008-2009 under the previous head of the port Abusupyan Harharov (Kharkharov resigned in September 2010), told RBC Abdulgamidov. According to him, the loan was secured by “cranes, vessels and other property”. The collateral for the loan, which was transferred from Sberbank to Arolia Holdings are four gantry cranes and two ship “Dagestan” and “Ali Aliyev”, follows from materials of the Kirov district court of Makhachkala (the court also considered a similar argument). As security for the equipment of the grain terminal.

The new leadership headed by Akhmed Gadzhiev (brother of a friend of Kerimov, a state Duma Deputy Magomed Hajiyev. — RBC) reached an oral agreement with the lender about restructuring the loan, says Abdulgamidov. But at the end of may 2016 Rosmorrechflot appointed the new CEO of the port Andrei Hormah (worked for several years in the structures of Magomedov), and the lender may fear failure port of the agreements, went to court, he suggests. The port is satisfied with the decision of the court, reduce the amount of claims, but has not yet decided whether to challenge it: the text of the resolution has not yet been reported.

Now the port is not able to repay the debt in RUB 156 million, so his leadership will negotiate with the lender (Arolia Holdings) deferral of payments and the scheduling of debt repayment, RBC conveyed through the press service of the acting Director General of the port Murad Hidirov.

But if the port will not be able to pay off debt and agree on payment in instalments, the property of the port (excluding the berths and assets, which may be only in state property) can be sold in bankruptcy proceedings or enforcement proceedings, warns a Federal official familiar with the situation. But the responsibility of the port’s assets are not subject to alienation in private property, so the operation of the enterprise will not be stopped, emphasizes the interlocutor of Agency of sea transport.

“This is very similar to the classical scheme of the 1990-ies, when took the company took a Bank loan secured by the property, then it outbid the Cyprus offshore company and began to demand the property, — says the employee of one of the largest shippers of port. Initiators of this action remain a big plus: they have the property, and a company they can buy at bargain prices in bankruptcy”.

According to the Cypriot registry, 100% owned Fort Arolia Holdings Partners S. A., registered in the British virgin Islands. With representatives of both companies could not be reached. But, according to the arbitration courts in Moscow and in Dagestan in 2012-2013, the Arolia Holdings participated in the bankruptcy of another Dagestan company “Airlines of Dagestan”, again bought requirements one of lenders.

The battle for the port

Arolia Holdings affiliated with Nafta Moskva, Kerimov, told RBC source in the government of Dagestan and was confirmed by an employee of one of the largest shippers of port. A request to RBC aimed to foster Karimov, remained unanswered.

According to a source in the Republican government, Arolia bought by a loan from Sberbank, with a 50-percent discount (the representative of the Bank does not comment on it). According to him, “long time” did not make any attempts to collect debts. And enhancing actions of the creditor, he explains the conflict situation around the port and the prospect of changing its leadership.

In late may, the staff of the port of Makhachkala torpedoed the appointment of a new CEO Andrew Hormah, speaking in defense of his former leader Ahmed Hajiyev. Union leaders declared a strike and wrote a letter to the presidential administration, stating the incompetence Hormah and threatened boycott of the elections to the state Duma. The new head did not hit. Similarly, with the fight held a change of Director of the port last time, in 2010, Kerimov using Rosmorrechflot has made removal of many years the chief port Harharov, wrote Forbes, but the new CEO in the first day, could not leave with company: on the street it was waited by a crowd which beat him up so that he was in the hospital. As a result, in September 2010, the port still headed by prof.

Hormah in 2013-2015, Deputy General Director United grain company controlled group “Sum” Ziyavudin Magomedov. Magomedov — the main rival of the victim in Dagestan and another bidder for the asset. Sum, which, together with Transneft controls the Novorossiysk commercial sea port (between Makhachkala and Novorossiysk laid the pipeline), has repeatedly expressed interest in the Makhachkala port and even going there to build new terminals. “Amount” and now “sees great potential for the development of the port and are willing to consider buying it, if the state put it up for sale, said RBC representative. The situation with the court decision at the suit of the Arolia he has not commented.

The decision of Rosmorrechflot, on the appointment of a new Director General was challenged by another applicant for this position — Magomed Kantaev. Who is behind it, is unknown, but his claim is clearly played into the hands of the former head of port Hajiyev, supported Karimov in his petition of may 30, the Gudermes city court of Chechnya took security measures and arrested on an order for the appointment of the new head of the port. Moreover, on 9 June, the Prosecutor General’s office has identified irregularities in the conduct of this competition, and instructed the head of Rosmorrechflot Vladimir Olersky to eliminate violations. The Agency will defend the decision about the new chief of the port of Makhachkala, using “all legal tools”, told RBC his representative. But the decision of the Gudermes while the court challenge failed — due to illness of plaintiff’s trial postponed indefinitely. Elected CEO of the company is Gormach, the question of the re-tender is not being considered, she said.

But now people Kerimov probably managed to keep control of the port because the appointment Hormah, whose candidacy could promote Magomedov, did not actually take place, says the chief editor of the website “Caucasian policy” Beslan Uspanov. By itself, the port of Makhachkala as an asset, which is now in decline, not so interesting structures Magomedov and Kerimov, as the struggle for influence over the country, he said. The winner is likely to denote their superiority in Dagestan, the expert assumes. The economic component in the fight for the port is missing, agrees the managing partner of InfraNews Alexei Bezborodov. He believes that even between the ports of Makhachkala and Novorossiysk there is no synergy, because the pipe connecting them belongs to “Transneft”.

“Criminal threats”

In early June, Transneft warned of a “criminal threats” in Makhachkala. In “Transneft” regularly receives requests from shippers in connection with losses and problematic situations during the transportation of oil from tankers to the terminal “Dagnefteprodukt” in the port of Makhachkala for transportation via the system of trunk oil pipelines to Novorossiysk port, was spoken in the company message. So, in may 2016, “Dagnefteprodukt by 5 thousand tons of Turkmen oil, has refused to hand over this amount to the Transneft system. Moreover, companies complain that tanks “Dagnefteprodukt” comes “off-spec” oil with excess of permissible concentrations of chloride salts and water, indicated transport monopoly.

“The crime situation “Dagnefteprodukt” and the inaction of the Republican administrative structures actually lead to the closure of export flows of Caspian oil via the only infrastructure of the Russian Federation belonging to the state. The closing, and as a consequence, and the loss of transit link will redirect the potential oil volumes in such corridors, like the BTC [Baku — Tbilisi — Ceyhan] and Georgia’s ports,” — warning “Transneft”.

Later, the President of “Transneft” Nikolay Tokarev said that the port of Makhachkala can be closed for shipment of oil. However, the port’s representative told RBC that it has nothing to do with the activity of Dagnefteprodukt”.

Third party

The President of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov said in an interview with RBC on July 11 that he is a supporter of a speedy privatization of the port, so it was transferred to the investor who offered the best development programme. “Instead, behind my port started from one groups to the other group of influence. What’s that mean? This means that we shift the conflict in Dagestan, because each group of influence are 300-500 people,” said Abdulatipov.

He threatened that if “two groups of Dagestanis” (structure Kerimov, and Magomedov) will not stop the confrontation, then the port will go to a third party: “I do believe that for us to port development need a third person, and we are already negotiating with certain people”. Later it became known that this company is interested in the ex-owner of Cherkizovsky market Telman Ismailov. According to the Dagestani media, now he is negotiating with the Republic on behalf of the Turkish Group Yildirim holding Inc, a major operator in the field of shipbuilding, upgrading of ports and logistics in the Maritime trade. However, Abdulatipov, the representative is not commenting, it only said that “negotiations are at an advanced stage and soon Mr Abdulatipov announced his decision.”

The leadership of Dagestan “fully aware” of the situation around the port of Makhachkala, and knows about existing debt to Arolia Holdings, said RBC source in the government. But the authorities do not give preference to any of the parties to the dispute and are only interested in the fact that the port worked effectively and fulfilled its functions and capabilities at 100%. “Principled position” regarding Abdulatipov claims to the enterprise is that this issue should be resolved in a judicial order, without any administrative interference and pressure. “If the parties do not agree, then the likely prospect that the port will pass into the hands of a new player and a third party. If it does not contradict laws of the Russian Federation, it can be any company, including with participation of foreign capital”, — said the interlocutor of RBC.