Vyborg shipbuilding is preparing to “lay the ends”?
Aleksey Rakhmanov, who almost allowed the Vyborg Shipbuilding Plant to go bankrupt, can finally “finish off” it. The head of the “United Shipbuilding Corporation” (USC) Alexei Rakhmanov headed the “Vyborg Shipbuilding Plant” (PJSC “VSZ”), one of the largest such enterprises in the country. Prior to this, the former head Alexander Solovyov, who had been managing the plant since 2012, was dismissed.
It is stated that this is a temporary solution, until the board of directors elects a new CEO. But some “milestones” of Mr. Rakhmanov’s work biography raise certain concerns: is it not for this reason that the new leader came to the plant, mired in financial problems, in order to put the enterprise under the hammer?
Where’s the money?
VZZ is a strategic enterprise for the Russian shipbuilding industry. It produces oil tankers, icebreakers, drilling rigs for the extraction of minerals in the seas and oceans.
However, the plant has been experiencing serious financial problems for many years. Neither the former head Alexander Solovyov nor the head of the USC Alexei Rakhmanov managed to decide.
In open sources it is difficult to find information about the current financial situation of the enterprise. However, as of 2020, VZZ debts amounted to about 6 billion rubles. As a result, the leadership of USC, i.e. and personally Rakhmanov, it was decided to capitalize the plant by 3 billion rubles. RBC writes about it.
Additional capitalization was to be carried out through the additional issue of shares, the entire volume of which promised to buy USC. It was assumed that the plant would use the money received in this way to pay off debts. But everything turned out differently, and this is a mystery.
Only in December 2022 did it become clear that USC did not buy back the issued shares. The reason remained unknown; the corporation’s comments on this matter could not be found. Moreover, according to Delovoy Peterburg, the negative capital (i.e., debts) of the VZZ for the first six months of 2022 amounted to 7.5 billion rubles.
That is, the debt was not just not paid off, it grew. Then it is not clear where the additional volume of shares issued by VZZ has gone, since USC did not buy it out. Moved to a certain private investor – secretly from the whole country?
From this, assumptions are born that USC and Rakhmanov personally may not want to save the plant by ridding it of debts, but simply sell it off. Moreover, this, perhaps, is already being done – in parts. Such a position would hardly have been to the taste of Alexander Solovyov, who gave the plant 10 years of his life – the new owners, as a rule, change the top management of the structure for their own people.
Is that why it was removed, and Alexei Rakhmanov personally became in charge of the possible pre-sale preparation?
A few years ago, the Vyborg Shipbuilding Plant received a state subsidy of 3 billion rubles. This could be the reason for refusal to buy shares by USC. Such an explanation is untenable, because the debt of the WHA has only increased. What was the subsidy for then? Was it “mastered” in the best traditions of Russian officials?
Problem upon problem
At the same time, the work of the plant caused enough complaints. Responsibility for this, probably, should be borne by the former head of Solovyov, but after all, the entire USC is personally supervised by Alexei Rakhmanov. Moreover, strategic orders.
In 2018, VSZ missed the deadlines for the delivery of three icebreakers commissioned by Atomflot and Gazprom Neft. In particular, the transfer of the port icebreaker “Ob” (customer – Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Atomflot”) has shifted by half a year. The vessel was necessary for the development of a strategic project for our country by the Novatek Group of Companies – Yamal LNG. TASS writes about this.
Then Aleksey Rakhmanov explained this situation with the “whims” of the customer, namely the requirement to use automated power supply systems for certain companies, as well as the fact that VSY allegedly took on too much task of building fishing vessels without calculating the power. According to this logic, Solovyov should have been removed earlier, and not now.
In 2016, at the request of the employees of the enterprise, the VZZ was checked by the prosecutor’s office. As a result, violations in terms of wages were revealed. Among other things, the days of payment of wages were not stipulated in the employment contracts at all. This was reported on the website of the prosecutor’s office. Solovyov was given a proposal to eliminate the violations. It remains a mystery why this process was not controlled by USC.
At the same time, the employees of the enterprise said that the plant had created a scheme of illegal enrichment in the captain’s service through postscripts in the timesheets.
They claimed that the management of the plant did not respond to their appeals in this regard. At the same time, in the comments to the media, the VZZ management said that, it turns out, it knows “about the current conflict situation between the head of the captain’s service and part of his team.” Whether any action was taken is unknown.
It seems that non-payment of wages forced the employees of the plant to commit crimes. As ivbg.ru writes with reference to the Department of Transport of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Northwestern Federal District, in 2018 it turned out that the workers of the enterprise took non-ferrous metals out of it in boots for subsequent scrapping.
All this indicates that there was no order at the plant, and for some reason Alexei Rakhmanov was in no hurry to restore it over the past years.
Not a coincidence, but a pattern
But there is no order in the USC itself. This is evidenced by a whole series of corruption scandals, failures in the delivery of ships, as well as accidents on iconic ships of recent years.
One of the most famous cases is the fire on the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov during repairs in Murmansk in 2019. As a result, several people died, extinguishing the fire took a long time, and Kommersant’s sources estimated the amount of damage from the fire at 95 billion rubles.
The volume of repairs before the fire was estimated at 60-65 billion rubles. It turns out that it was easier to build a new aircraft carrier. There was a fire during welding in one of the compartments.
As the reason, they indicated violations of safety rules during construction work. But another version became popular among the people: allegedly, they could try to hide possible multi-billion dollar embezzlement by fire.
Burning “Admiral Kuznetsov”.
Subsequently, it turned out that during the repair of the aircraft carrier they really could have been stolen. The general director of the 10th shipyard in Murmansk, where the cruiser was under repair earlier, was arrested. He was suspected of withdrawing about 45 million rubles allocated for the repair of an aircraft carrier. Lenta.ru wrote about it.
And later, in the summer of 2021, the director of the 35th shipyard itself (Zvyozdochka, where the fire occurred) Sergei Verakso, who was considered Rakhmanov’s man, was arrested. He was suspected of embezzlement, the situation was reported in the press service of the Murmansk City Court. The case is handled by the FSB.
It would seem that the situation should teach Alexei Rakhmanov and his team a lot. But in 2022, a fire broke out on the aircraft carrier again, although on a smaller scale. Rakhmanov himself called it “a small excess.” One can only be glad that additional tens of billions were not required for repairs again.
Separate problems with icebreakers, which are so necessary for our oil and gas industry and for many other tasks. Our first serial nuclear-powered icebreaker “Siberia”, as it turned out, will not be delivered on time. As expected, USC tried to justify itself.
The delay was blamed on the slow adjustment of project documentation following the construction of the lead icebreaker, the slow pace of electrical work and the backlog in the delivery of steam turbine units. And who, if not USC under the leadership of Rakhmanov, should control this?
The situation with other icebreakers is also problematic. It was necessary to react at the highest level – Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, recognized the problems. Today, in the context of sanctions restrictions, they are becoming critical.
Despite all the scandals, Alexei Rakhmanov seems unsinkable
In 2020, another corruption scandal erupted at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg. On the fact of the theft of funds from the Ministry of Defense, the general director of the enterprise Alexander Buzakov was checked for possible abuse of official powers. In 2022, he suddenly passed away, the cause of death was not reported. In this regard, there were a variety of impartial rumors.
All these problems (and we have described only a small part) have been accumulating in USC for years, growing like a snowball. But Alexey Rakhmanov is still in his post. Moreover, he gets new positions, as in the case of the VZZ.