Sovcombank – for IPO, ABK-Invest – for liquidation
Have the schemes of the Khotimsky brothers failed? Co-owners «SovcomBank, brothers Sergey and Dmitry Khotimsky once again thought about holding an initial public offering (IPO). True, these plans can be implemented no earlier than 2024 due to the “very low price level”, but for now the beneficiaries and top management of the credit institution “remain in a high degree of readiness”. The banker brothers have been regularly talking about the upcoming IPO since 2013, but every time there are obstacles to this: for example, in 2021, the refusal was explained by the purchase of Vostochny Bank.
The next problems may arise due to Western sanctions, although last year in “Sovcombank” declared the presence of “the necessary reserve for capital and liquidity”, and Sergey Khotimsky saw the prospects for further growth. However, the credit institution had problems paying coupons on two issues of Eurobonds. In addition, even before the start of the SVO and the imposition of sanctions against the bank, its co-owners and top managers, there was a sharp decline in the financial performance of the institution, including profit and asset value. Funds could be withdrawn to foreign accounts of affiliated offshore companies, which did not in the least prevent high-ranking officials from providing support.Sovcombank”, considered one of the court banks of Elvira Nabiullina, who gave the Khotimsky “green light” to “take over” a number of credit institutions. In addition, at the suggestion of Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, last summer “Sovcombank” became a participant of the program of preferential car loans of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. For a long time, the necessary connections helped the banker brothers solve problems with the security forces: it is known that in “SovcomBank” is actively using the scheme of selling debt obligations, the victims of which have repeatedly become citizens who have taken a loan secured by apartments. The buyer of the debts was ABK-Invest, a company associated with the bank. But only after a complaint from borrowers addressed to the head of the Sledkom Alexander Bastrykin, searches were carried out in the company’s office, and today ABK-Invest is in the process of liquidation.
“Sovcombank” is “setting up” for an IPO
IN “Sovcombank have not abandoned their plans to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) starting in 2024. This was told to Vedomosti by the co-owner and first deputy chairman of the board of the credit institution Sergei Khotimsky, who stressed that he did not see the possibility of an IPO in 2023 due to “very low prices.” However, he voiced the “task” set – “to remain at a high degree of readiness.”
In the case of a banking IPO, experts estimate the possible attraction of funds on the Russian stock market at 10-15 billion rubles. True, it is noted that on the public offering of shares in “Sovcombank” has been regularly announced since about 2013. For example, in 2021, the refusal of an IPO was explained by the purchase of Vostochny Bank: they say, the integration of a new business may scare off potential investors.
A few months later, there were reports about the plans of Sovko (the bank’s parent structure) to conduct an additional issue of 2.6% to 3.9% of shares worth up to 13.5 billion rubles. At the same time, it was clarified that the IPO of securities of the Sovcombank will be held in 2025 – “under favorable market conditions”, and before that, the institution intends to “doubling profits, increasing shareholder return by 3.5 times and increasing return on equity from 26 to 28%”.
There is a capital reserve, but sanctions still affect
So, we regularly hear the same “song”. In February last year, after the imposition of Western sanctions, in “Sovcombank” stated that they had “the necessary capital and liquidity reserve to overcome the negative impact of sanctions restrictions”, as well as their readiness to fulfill obligations to creditors in a timely manner.
A few months later, Sergei Khotimsky, in a commentary to RBC, noted that there was no need for additional capitalization.
Nevertheless, “SovcomBank” sanctions still hurt. Suffice it to recall the high-profile scandal with the suspension of coupon payments on two out of four Eurobond issues maturing in 2025 and 2030. This was explained by the lack of technical ability to dispose of blocked assets and fully use the international payment infrastructure to service loans.
The banking management assured that they had developed several scenarios for overcoming the consequences of the imposition of sanctions in such a way as to minimize their negative impact on customers and counterparties. One of the options was to conclude an agreement with the Mercury Public Affairs lobbying company, which was supposed to represent the interests of “Sovcombank” in the USA.
The Khotimskys, who decided to convey to the Western business and political elite information about the business model of their credit institution, focused on the fact that the bank was privately owned, as well as the absence of Russian politicians, oligarchs from the Forbes list, and persons prosecuted under the law among its shareholders. with US law. But these arguments were not heard:Sovcombank” was first included in the American sanctions list (SDN), and then 17 of its top managers and members of the Supervisory Board, including the Khotimskys themselves, were under personal sanctions.
Banking business under bureaucratic “roof”?
It should be noted that even before the start of the SVO and the imposition of sanctions, the main financial indicators “Sovcombank” raised many questions. Thus, according to the specialized portal “Banki.Ru”, in January-February 2022, the net profit of the institution decreased by 46.4 billion rubles, the value of net assets – by 86.2 billion, the amount of funds of enterprises and organizations – by 48.9 billion, investments in securities – by 86.2 billion rubles.
There is a negative trend, only recently information about the decrease in indicators disappears from the Internet, and analytics about the work “Sovcombank” for most of the last year is not available at all in open sources. Where the finances went – one can only guess, but it is possible that they “settled” in foreign accounts. As you know, the official owner of 86.5% of the shares “Sovcombank” is the holding company “Sovco Capital Partners S.а rl” (formerly “Sovco Capital Partners BV”). First, she was registered in the Netherlands, then in Luxembourg, and only in September 2021 she became one of the residents of the Kaliningrad Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Oktyabrsky Island.
All these years, the offshore connections of the “third largest private bank in Russia” did not in the least embarrass the leadership of the Central Bank, calmly looking at how the Khotimsky “absorbed” credit institutions one by one, having successfully “digested” Metcombank, RosEvroBank, Volgo- Caspian Joint Stock Bank, Eurasian Bank, Vostochny, Express-Volga, Oney Bank banks. Analysts have long attributedSovcomBank” is one of the most active players in the M&A market, using the resolution mechanism to establish control over other banking structures.
It is not surprising that in such a scenario, the bank of the Khotimsky brothers was repeatedly called on the network one of the “court banks” of Elvira Nabiullina, thanks to which the successful implementation of the “takeover strategy” allegedly became possible.
The Federal Ministry of Industry and Trade does not stand aside either: with the light hand of its head, the current Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, in July last year “SovcomBank” became a participant of the program of preferential car loans. This happened shortly after a meeting with the president dedicated to the automotive industry, following which it was decided to allocate 20.7 billion rubles to support demand for cars, including 10.2 billion for the resumption of car loans and 4.9 billion for preferential leasing.
Thus, the Khotimskys became business partners of the ministry headed by Manturov. By the way, at one time Pyotr Zaselsky was attributed to the lobbyists of the interests of the banker brothers, in 2018-2021. who held the post of Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, and before that, he worked as Deputy Chairman of the Board for more than ten years “Sovcomjar”. In general, with such connections “at the very top”, gaining access to budget billions does not look like something out of the ordinary.
ABK-Invest is doomed to liquidation
Useful connections are needed by the Khotimskys to resolve issues with representatives of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. The fact is that recently there is more and more information about the use by the owners of “Sovcombank” credit and mortgage scheme. At its first stage, private companies specializing in the provision of financial services and operating in close conjunction with the banking management help citizens in obtaining loans secured by apartments, which, as a rule, are their only housing.
Clients often become people from low-income segments of the population – pensioners, large families, single mothers, etc. whose website “Sovcombank” is listed as one of the business partners.
At the second stage, taking advantage of the delay in repayment of the loan, the Khotimsky brothers’ bank resells the debt to another affiliated structure – ABK-Invest LLC (owned by Victoria Gafurova and Inga Budilenko; CEO – Rail Mamalimov). From the comments on specialized sites it follows that for the sale of debt “SovcomBank” uses any suitable excuse: it is enough to delay the payment for a few days and even after writing an application for a loan holiday, the borrower is “transferred from hand to hand” by “ABK-Invest”, and he, as a rule, learns about the sale of debt to a third-party legal entity from company representatives.
From now on, the life of not only the client himself “Sovcombank”, but his loved ones turn into a real nightmare: they are threatened, their property is destroyed, there are known cases of breaking into apartments and the use of physical violence. Perhaps the most famous (but by no means the only) victim of ABK-Invest was the actress Evgenia Akhremenko. Credit schemes have already ended in suicide: for example, the inability to pay a loan taken on the security of an apartment led to the suicide of 36-year-old Maxim Kalinin, who left behind a wife and child.
In July last year, publications appeared on the network about searches allegedly carried out by security forces in the office of the ABK-Invest company. According to the Moment of Truth publication, investigative actions took place after an appeal sent by borrowers “SovcomBank” in the name of the head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin. We do not undertake to judge how much the investigative actions influenced the further work of the company and its cooperation with the Khotimsky brothers, but today ABK-Invest is already in the process of liquidation.
The reason for this turn of events is unlikely to lie in the financial performance of the enterprise: in 2021, its revenue amounted to 4.1 billion rubles, profit – 158.2 million, the value of assets – 1.2 billion. Apparently, a wide public outcry still played a role, and if so, then, as they say, “the Moor did his job …” Nevertheless, questions to the owners and top managers “SovcomBank, which has put on stream credit-criminal schemes, representatives of law enforcement and supervisory departments have not yet arisen. Having connections in ministerial offices, the Khotimskys are confident in the future and even once again started talking about the prospects for an IPO.