The bankruptcy of CJSC Trolza, initiated by the tax authorities, revealed a lot of interesting details. Two whole years passed between the lawsuit filed in 2020 and the introduction of the monitoring procedure (March 2022).
Interim Manager Aleksey Laptev (SRO AAU “Paritet”) posted on the EFRSB an analysis of the financial condition of the enterprise, including a conclusion on the presence or absence of controversial transactions and signs of fictitious and (or) deliberate bankruptcy.
The history of Trolza, Russia’s largest manufacturer of trolleybuses, which the region was rightfully proud of, is fresh in the minds of many. The plant occupied a large segment of the market, actively developed the topic of electric buses, won an honorable tender for the supply of trolleybuses to the Crimea in a competitive struggle, and suddenly, at the beginning of 2019, this whole picture fell apart. Production stopped, management announced financial difficulties, it became known about plans to cut 500 workers from the existing 800.
To top it off, the company’s general director, Ivan Kotvitsky, was put under house arrest on charges of giving a large bribe to a tax inspector.
The judicial drama ended long ago, on the premises rented from Trolza, PK TS LLC, controlled by Transmashholding, has been deployed. And the materials of financial analysis show how the once successful, strong enterprise was destroyed.
A major role in this story was played by CJSC Berg, which in 2020 prevented the first bankruptcy of Trolza, initiated at the suit of Rossiya Bank.
JSC AB Rossiya, through the arbitration of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, demanded to recover from Trolza and a pool of technically related companies joint and several liability for repayment of a loan in the amount of more than 189.6 million rubles, however, Berg managed to sign an assignment agreement with the bank and received the right to demand this amount from Trolza and its satellites.
As it turned out, in the past, Berg was one of the co-founders of the Solar Products holding, and Solpro, as you know, was once part of the Buket Group of Companies, of which Trolza was also a member.
Obviously, the maneuver with the cession was undertaken, because at that time the bankruptcy of Trolza, and even with the sale of property, would have interfered with plans with Transmashholding.
As you know, since the end of 2019, a certain Nikolai Bidnyuk has stood at the helm of the trolleybus plant, and 100% of the company’s shares, as Alexei Laptev’s financial analysis showed, were transferred to a certain Gortrans JSC. The company’s reporting for 2019-2020 was considered unreliable by the arbitration appointee, so the analysis is based on the reporting of 2015-2018.
As can be seen from the text of the publication on the EFRSB, already at that time the auditors paid attention to the large claims of creditors brought through the court, as well as to the dependence of the enterprise on the support of the shareholder and potential investors. In 2015, the total assets of the enterprise amounted to 3.3 billion rubles, by the end of 2018 they decreased by 41%, to 1.9 billion rubles, current assets remained only by 1.230 billion rubles (-60%), while three years earlier – 3.03 billion rubles. Liquid assets sank by 75% to 558 million rubles against 2.3 billion in 2015.
On the other hand, own funds suddenly increased by 839 million rubles to 520 million against a negative value of 318 million rubles in 2015. Liabilities unexpectedly decreased to 1.430 billion rubles against 3.6 billion in 2015 (-61%). The growth of own funds occurred due to the fact that the owner of Trolza, JSC Gortrans, poured 580 million rubles of its own funds into the treasury of the plant as financial assistance.
This happened at the end of 2018-beginning of 2019, and almost immediately the plant bought bills for the entire amount from the same Gortrans. Thus, the increase in the net assets of the enterprise occurred only on paper.
At the same time, in the crisis year of 2018, Trolza’s financial picture cannot be called a failure: net revenue (after taxes and mandatory payments) reached 2.509 billion rubles, an increase of 55% compared to 2016. From sales, a profit of 129 million rubles was received, while in 2016 and 2017 – losses. The plant was prevented from finishing the year with a profit by some other income and expenses, which gave a minus of 210 million, and at the end of the year – a loss of 145 million rubles.
Apparently, this is hiding the obligations that were hung on the enterprise by fellow members of the Buket Group of Companies, including the famous guarantee to BM-Bank for the purchase of the territory of one of the capital’s factories, according to which Trolza subsequently received claims for 1 billion rubles.
This, together with the credit burden and a sharp decline in the return on assets, called into question the future of CJSC Trolza. The analysis also revealed a high dependence on loans, insufficiency of assets suitable for settlement of existing liabilities. As a result, the financial condition of the plant was characterized as unsatisfactory with a trend of further deterioration, although nominally the total assets of Trolza amounted to 1.951 billion rubles at the end of 2018, while liabilities on the balance sheet were 1.431 billion.
The activity of the enterprise was called unprofitable, there was no real opportunity to restore the solvency of the plant, since the amount of liabilities exceeded the potential effect from the sale of financial assets, the sale of accounts receivable at auction. Based on this, the interim manager concluded that the threat of bankruptcy of the enterprise was not fictitious, but it was impossible to make a conclusion about premeditation with the documents in hand.
But besides this, the messenger of arbitration found transactions with signs of doubtfulness. It turns out that CJSC Berg, having received the right to claim 192 million rubles (principal plus interest) from Trolza, took 15 objects from the plant under a compensation agreement – workshops, buildings and asphalt roads for 137 million rubles. At the same time, in order to maintain a balance of interests of creditors, Berg undertook to pay Trolza 20% of the value of the transferred property within six months. But the interim manager did not find confirmation of payment.
He generously received real estate and the private industrial park “Trolza” from the plant, but at the same time he carefully paid for far from everything. As a result, payment in the amount of about 30 million rubles could not be found.
A separate song is the bills, with the help of which Gortrans inflated the own capital of Trolza. Financial transactions for the transfer of funds to the treasury of the plant and the transformation of hundreds of millions of rubles into incomprehensible securities took place through the NVK bank, which was also part of Vladislav Burov’s Buket group of companies. Therefore, perhaps it makes sense to see if real money was deposited at all.
JSC Gortrans itself was registered in Moscow in 2018 with an authorized capital of 1 million rubles, its predecessor is Gortrans LLC, which arose in 2016. These LLCs were founded by two companies – LLC Garda and LLC Pleshcheyevo, and were headed by Inna Soskina, in the past – the general director of JSC Trade House Yantarny.
Gortrans showed at least some financial success in 2017, suddenly recording net revenue in the amount of 12.5 million rubles. The rest of the time there are solid zeros in the balance. How such a joint-stock company managed to benefit Trolza for hundreds of millions of rubles is not clear.
In JSC “Gortrans” the general director is Alexander Sologudin, who at one time also headed the Moscow JSC “Garda”, whose profile is securities. Isn’t it from here the surrogate who pumped up the capital of “Trolza”? It is difficult to answer this question, because JSC “Garda” has already been liquidated.
A note about the unreliability of information in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities is also on the Gortrans page. As for the bills themselves, the interim manager Aleksey Laptev still cannot see with his own eyes, and therefore cannot answer questions about who issued them, what are the maturity dates, etc.
It may well be that he will never see these papers, even if he begins to challenge the transactions as dubious. However, for this, the bankruptcy of Trolza must move to the next stage. Alexey Laptev stands up for bankruptcy proceedings. The report of the manager is to be considered by the court on June 13.
Help “BV”. JSC “Trolza” was the largest enterprise in Russia for the production of trolleybuses. The plant was founded in 1868, more than 70% of all trolleybuses produced in the Russian Federation rolled off its assembly lines. Engels trolleybuses still operate on the lines of 86 cities in Russia and abroad, including in Argentina, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.