Tkachev will squeeze the oil out of Bunge
The buyer of the Russian plant Bunge found a one percent co-investor. The sale of the Russian butter business by the American Bunge to Karen Vanetsyan could have taken place with the participation of a partner. A minority stake in the head structure of the asset was owned by Olga Ananyeva, the owner of a Krasnodar agricultural enterprise, which is associated on the market with the structures of the ex-head of the Ministry of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev. Mr. Vanetsyan himself claims that he is the only investor, explaining the ownership structure with legal restrictions. Ms. Ananyeva also denies any connection with Mr. Tkachev’s business.
Two sources in the agricultural industry and an interlocutor in investment circles told Kommersant that third parties could participate in the deal to sell the American Bunge to a new investor in Russian business to raise funding.
Bunge, which together with Cargill, ADM and Louis Dreyfus is one of the four largest global food traders, announced the sale of its business in Russia to Karen Vanetsyan in September 2022. Bunge CIS operates an oil extraction plant in the Voronezh region with a capacity of more than 200 million bottles of sunflower oil per year, the brand portfolio includes the Oleina and Ideal brands. Karen Vanetsyan is the main owner of the ExOil Group holding, which is also engaged in processing and trading in oilseeds. Mikhail Zurabov, the former head of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and the ex-ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, owns 25% each of Chernozemye LLC and Chernozemye Trading House LLC, which are part of the holding.
According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities in SPARK-Interfax, Karen Vanetsyan received 100% of Bunge CIS on February 13, but already on February 21, Agroinvest LLC became the owner of the company.
This structure is 99% owned by Hong Kong Grenaldi Limited, another 1% is owned by Olga Ananyeva. She also heads Krasnodar Yug Agrotekhnika LLC and owns it through Region LLC. This farm was part of the asset portfolio of the Tsapok family, and then, as market participants said, came under the control of the Agrocomplex named after. N. I. Tkachev, one of the largest Russian landowners and a major producer of milk, meat and sugar. In 2015, Yug Agrotechnica was headed by Alexander Kvashin, whose full namesake is named Deputy General Director for Agricultural Production on the website of the agrocomplex. RBC also wrote in 2018 that Yug Agrotekhnika is managed by the agricultural complex.
In the agricultural complex, Kommersant said that they were not related to the deal and to Yug Agrotechnica. Olga Ananyeva said that she bought the Krasnodar asset in 2015, but she did not know and did not contact Messrs. Tkachev and Kvashin. She refused to comment on participation in the head structure of Bunge CIS.
Karen Vanetsyan assured Kommersant that he was the sole owner and director of Grenaldi Limited, providing an extract from the Hong Kong registry. According to him, he gave 1% in Agroinvest to Olga Ananyeva in order to circumvent the ban on the creation of “matryoshka dolls”, when one company owns 100% of the second structure, and that one 100% of the third organization.
This is an absolutely technical deal, the businessman emphasizes.
Ekaterina Tokareva, a partner at the Pen & Paper Bar Association, notes that Bunge could not agree on the sale of the asset if Alexander Tkachev was among the beneficiaries of the transaction. Mr. Tkachev is under the sanctions of the EU, Great Britain, Canada, Switzerland, and can theoretically fall under the characteristics of a politically exposed person, interaction with whom is unacceptable, says Ms. Tokareva. Alexander Tkachev’s brother, the lawyer adds, is also under US sanctions.
The lawyer clarifies that the 1% member could be introduced due to restrictions on successive ownership of companies, but he formally has “almost the same rights as the owner of 99%”. This is an opportunity to receive information about the company, to challenge the decisions of the company’s bodies and transactions, Ms. Tokareva lists.
Director of Sovecon Andrey Sizov notes that, given the new state of the plant, the Bunge CIS plant should work with good economic efficiency, and “famous brands will ensure sales.” As the expert notes, an investment in oil production oriented to foreign markets could be more profitable, but the Bunge CIS plant is also located in relative proximity to the main export gates – the terminals of the Azov-Black Sea basin.