And a whole Volvo is not enough: banker Kim dreams of the glory of Henry Ford?
Banker Igor Kim received several legal entities from the Russian division of the Volvo automaker under his wing. For good or so, were they allowed to hold it in difficult times?
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has decided on an investor who will take over the assets of the Swedish automaker Volvo in Russia, and on a new partner for the Kaluga automobile plant Volvo Trucks. And although Denis Manturov’s department did not name names, according to our information, the Russian division of the automaker transferred to structures associated with banker Igor Kim. Having made his mark in the restaurant, pawnshop, banking business and even agriculture, Kim decided to go into auto tycoon?
An entire group of companies that were once associated with the Volvo automaker in Russia have recently changed owners and managers. Thus, Volvo Construction Equipment Vostok LLC, which became Stokov Construction LLC, on September 6, 2023, came under the control of Aston Group LLC, which is personally owned by Igor Kim. 1% in Stokov Construction LLC remained with the Kaluga JSC Stokov Machinery Equipment (formerly JSC (N) Volvo Vostok). In the latter, the director was replaced on September 7, 2023, and Alexey Sannikov became the new head – in 2021, a member of the board of Expobank, controlled by Kim.
Sannikov also still intersects with Kim’s companies through other legal entities, including those working in the car trade sector, for example, the same LLC Avtoexpress and LLC Expomobility. In addition, Sannikov also headed Stokov Construction. The ownership of Stokov Machinery Equipment JSC was followed by a subsidiary – Stokov Components LLC. In addition, Stokov Finance LLC (formerly Volvo Finance Vostok LLC) and its “parent” legal entity, Stokov Financial Services LLC (SFU), were headed from September 7 by Nikita Dmitrievich Ryauzov, Kim’s business partner in Expocap LLC. , Morelam LLC and Expocapital Liz LLC. Although SFU’s owners are still listed as the Swedish company VFS INTERNATIONAL AB and the German VOLVO FINANCIAL SERVICES GMBH.
Thus, there is every reason to believe that Volvo’s assets were acquired by structures close to Igor Kim.
The interesting thing about this change of owners is that for quite some time now the Swedish Volvo has not been so Swedish. Since 2010, the concern has been owned by the Chinese auto company Geely. Why did Chinese businessmen, who do not seem to be participating in the sanctions, need to get rid of assets in the Russian Federation, this is an unanswered question. Does Igor Kim really imagine himself to be Henry Ford?
A native of Kazakhstan, Igor Kim was ranked 186th in one of the Forbes ratings “200 richest businessmen in Russia – 2011”, being the head of the board of directors and the main shareholder of Expobank, but for some reason he was not included in subsequent ratings. Apparently, the more successful ones got around. At that time, the publication attributed to him such assets as MDM Bank and Orient Express Bank.
He started with URSA Bank, which in 2008 went through a merger with MDM Bank, but in 2011 Kim sold Sergei Popov’s share in this bank, starting to build his own banking group on the basis of Expobank, bought from the British Barclays. In general, the defendant is known for buying up bank assets.
For example, in 2015, a deal was reported to purchase the Russian subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). In August 2022, the media reported that Kim could become the buyer of the Russian business of one of the world’s largest financial conglomerates HSBC – HSBC Bank (RR) LLC. They also previously talked about another acquisition of a structure close to Kim – a subsidiary leasing company of the French group Societe Generale – ALD Automotive.
It’s not for nothing that Kim is called a “serial banker” – his track record included quite a few banks, some of which have already ceased to exist as legal entities.
Experts, speaking about the next deal, Kim expressed the opinion that the HSBC deal may not be for synergy from a business point of view through, for example, obtaining a client audience or any competencies, but the interest may simply be the desire to make money on a discount. Maybe the same picture is observed in the case of Volvo?
By the way, the participation of Kim and his structures in a business related not even to production, but simply to the sale of cars, in our opinion, can hardly be called successful. Judge for yourself.
Two negatives make an affirmative?
The Avtoexpress company, where Igor Kim is present through JSC Central Committee, which is managed by LLC DNK and LLC Morelam, which he personally owns, at the end of 2022 significantly reduced its net profit – by 80.2%, from 229.168 to 45.393 million rubles, and Expomobility LLC, where more than 67% of the share belongs to Alexander Kim, and Igor Kim participates through Morelam LLC, showed a net loss of 72.6 million rubles in 2022. The mentioned Morelam LLC also received a net loss of 116 million rubles in 2022. Automotive trading LLC Dealon also suffered a loss of 45 million rubles, where Expomobility LLC already owns a share (85%), and the director since March 2023 is the aforementioned Sannikov.
At the same time, the Autoexpress company managed to be involved in a scandalous judicial story. In 2022, the Novosibirsk.Online publication published an article entitled “13 million rubles were collected from a Novosibirsk company for imposed services when selling cars,” which, among other things, stated that since the beginning of 2022, bailiffs have initiated 101 enforcement proceedings against LLC “ Avtoexpress” and as a result, the bailiffs collected 13 million rubles from the LLC in favor of consumers for the imposed certificates, which people later refused in court. The company in court demanded that the article be removed, recognizing the information as untrue and discrediting its business reputation, but the court refused to do so. On September 11, 2023, Avtoexpress lost the dispute in the second instance.
If we look into the arbitration database today, we will see that the Avtoexpress company has challenged a whole series of claims from Rospotrebnadzor over the years.
Judging by the reports of Autoexpress for 2022, it actively financially supports Expomobility and receives credit from Kim’s Expobank. The assets are tied to a kind of “circular lending”.
A number of Kim’s other assets, which appeared next to the Volvo deal, also cannot boast of performance. Thus, Aston Group LLC for 2022 showed a drop in profit by 87%, to a modest 1.2 million rubles. The company’s revenue also amounted to a rather modest 39.144 million rubles. But, interestingly, according to financial documents, Aston Group LLC At the same time, in 2022, it issued loans to subsidiaries for a total amount of more than 2.22 billion rubles, and in addition, the company issued a loan to Expobank JSC bank secured by securities (repo) for a total amount of 2.142 billion rubles. Fun math, isn’t it? And this takes into account that the share of the Aston group, freshly purchased in Stokov Construction, was not pledged anywhere, that is, it was acquired with its own and not borrowed funds?
Now watch your hands carefully. JSC Expobank, where Kim had 85.49% of shares as of 2021, is the controlling owner of the microfinance company Cashdrive. By the way, among the co-founders of the latter in 2020-2021 was Sannikov, who became the head of JSC Stokov Machinery Equipment and LLC Stokov Construction.
Judging by the latter’s website, it gives out money instantly for everything, including buying a car. The company’s website states that about 5.2 billion rubles in loans have been issued. At the same time, the IFC is part of the Expobank banking group, that is, it can be assumed that the money for microloans comes from the parent asset. Moreover, the owners actively increased the authorized capital of the IFC, bringing it to 870 million rubles.
Where do the “head” funds come from? And here we will carefully study the bank’s statements and its proposals.
The bank actively advertises a variety of deposits, introducing new programs, attracting customers, including at a high rate. For example, the “Expert” deposit on the website is indicated as having a rate of “up to 12%” and at the top there is a small, barely noticeable footnote, clicking on which it is clarified that the interest rate on the deposit when concluding a deposit agreement in rubles in offices / Internet banking on first interest period, and the minimum guaranteed rate for 180 days is 10.278%. How many people read the fine print of footnotes?
According to the Banki.ru service, from 2014 to 2022, Expobank increased the volume of individual deposits by 289.05%, up to 71.2 billion rubles by February 2022.
At the same time, from the data of the Bank Analysis service as of July 1, 2022, it follows that the protection of household deposits at the credit institution is low. At the same time, the assessment of the financial situation using the methods of Calypso and Kromonov appears in the service as “bad”. Considering that several dozen companies are affiliated with the bank, including the above-mentioned ones, such conclusions of the service raise reasonable concerns.
Another interesting nuance emerges from the bank’s reporting for 2020 (at that time it was still an LLC). The structure of investments in securities also included foreign investments, including in the Czech Republic, Serbia and the USA. In 2021, the publication Sputnik Latvia reported that Kim allegedly has majority stakes in the Serbian Expobank JSC (72.2%) and the Czech Expobank CZ (61.3%). That is, probably the same investments in the Czech Republic and Serbia. By the way, a modest share (2.02%, estimated at 65 million rubles) of the head of the board of Kirill Nifontov in Expobank LLC was once pledged in the Czech EXPOBANK CZ.
We should not forget that in 2018, RBC named Kim as the sole shareholder of the Latvian AS Expobank (formerly LTB Bank). It was also clarified that, in addition to Latvia, the bank is present in Cyprus and Luxembourg. By the way, this bank’s work outside the Russian Federation was not without claims from supervisory authorities. As RBC reported in the same publication, allegedly in 2015 Expobank was fined €105 thousand for shortcomings in the field of due diligence of clients and monitoring of their transactions.
In 2022, the media, citing Kim, stated that he had sold a bank in the Czech Republic and Latvia. A year earlier, the banker’s plans were announced to sell the entire banking business in Europe and work in the Asian region.
Kazakhstan is likely to be one of these regions. Since 2021, Safe-Lombard LLP, which is owned by a Russian banker, has immediately acquired five subsidiaries.
That is, we can conclude that in case of any difficult situation on his native shores, Mr. Kim also has a reserve pot in the form of foreign assets. As Forbes once quoted the position of a banker – “profit for him is no longer the main indicator, the main thing is resistance to stress and the ability to survive any crisis.”
In light of all these nuances, one wonders whether the purchase of Volvo assets was a purchase or whether kind foreign partners asked to hold the assets during a difficult period? It is unlikely that Mr. Kim will answer this question for us, but the facts speak volumes.