The apotheosis of bad news from the OBI company at the very end of last year was a grandiose fire in Khimki. Gossip immediately went: who will get insurance for burnt goods? Indeed, after the departure of the parent company from Russia, the network was listed as a nominal owner. Now the intrigue is spinning even stronger: it turns out that after the fire, OBI changed its owner again.
Perhaps the question of insurance in this story may be the key. The fact is that OBI has recently had financial problems. At the end of 2021, losses amounted to 2.5 billion rubles with revenue of 55 billion. The past year is also unlikely to be successful, because the stores were simply closed for several weeks, and even a fire. However, there were leaks that the insurance payment could amount to 20-30 billion rubles. If so, then the economic landscape changes dramatically, and, having received the money, the new owner will be able to easily restart the business.
Walker from Kanokov
News about the change of ownership of the OBI supermarket chain has been appearing since March, after the German OBI GmbH decided to leave Russia. At first it might seem that the Germans conceived a cunning maneuver in order to leave only in words, but in fact control the enterprise further. This hypothesis is supported by the conflict with Russian management. The local authorities wanted to quietly separate from the Germans and work independently. However, OBI GmbH did not let Russian shops float freely, despite the deplorable financial performance. Instead, the business was formalized at par.
In early April, information appeared that the supermarket chain was transferred to the trust management of the founder of the consulting company Audit Group, Boris Lyuboshits. He said that he was going to do an investment analysis and offer a business to an investor. However, there is no evidence that Lyuboshits was seriously looking for an investor. But there is information that the Germans themselves were negotiating with potential buyers, but they did it neither shaky nor rolls.
Presumably the story went like this. Back in the spring, Andrey Tarasov, co-owner of CentroCredit Bank, approached the Germans and offered to discuss a deal to sell supermarkets. Tarasov allegedly represented the interests of Senator Arsen Kanokov, the former president of Kabardino-Balkaria. The affiliation of Tarasov and Kanokov has been known since the late 90s, when Kanokov personally was a shareholder of CentroCredit, and then the Sindika holding company, again associated with Kanokov, entered the bank’s capital.
According to rumors, even a personal meeting took place in April, which was attended by Andrey Tarasov and Arsen Kanokov on the one hand, and Josef Kessel, a representative of OBI GmbH, on the other. As a result of the negotiations, Sindika made an offer to the Germans, but they showed intractability. Instead of quickly transferring the asset to Kanokov’s people on the proposed terms, they began some maneuvers.
Cover and raiders
At the end of April, information appeared that MAX Investment and Construction Companies Group LLC filed a petition with the Federal Antimonopoly Service for the purchase of the OBI supermarket chain. The seriousness of the intentions of this potential buyer even then was in doubt, since MAX is engaged in the construction of swimming pools and earns only a few tens of millions of rubles a year, while restarting the OBI business (shops were closed for several weeks) required billions of dollars of investment.
Then it turned out that the beneficiary of MAX, Ilya Kolobkov, was somehow connected with Boris Lyuboshits. To be more precise, Kolobkov is listed as the owner of the Moscow Institute of Existential Research LLC, which was established by Lyuboshits.
So the trick of selling OBI to a third party initially looked clumsy, but in the end it was nevertheless brought to an end. True, Josef Liokumovich introduced himself to the press as a buyer. He stated that he received 60% of the network for 600 rubles. He never named the owner of the remaining 40%. But the chest opens easily. It is enough to look at the data of LLC “Group of Investment and Construction Companies MAX”. 40% of the capital (6 thousand rubles) belongs to Ilya Kolobkov, and 60% to Josef Liokumovich. On this basis, it can be assumed that Kolobkov and Liokumovich purchased a supermarket chain with stocks of goods worth tens of billions of rubles for 1 thousand rubles. Whether this deal can be called fictitious, decide for yourself. And it is no longer so important through which channels the new beneficiaries came to an agreement with the Germans – either through the Kolobkov-Lyuboshits line, or through Liokumovich’s connections in the business environment of Eastern Europe.
It turns out that all summer the Germans could do business in Russia under the cover of Kolobkov and Liokumovich. However, by October there was a turning point. Then two legal entities suddenly became the new owner of the supermarket chain – Boksitogorsky Timber Processing Plant LLC (owner – Yuri Alymov) and the Interregional Public Organization “Anti-Corruption Action Center” (head – Kirill Olkhin). Liokumovich in the press called it a raider seizure, but no legal proceedings followed.
And already at the end of December, after a grandiose fire, new changes occurred in the registration databases regarding the legal entities of OBI. Now 90% of the chain of building supermarkets belongs to Modul-2 LLC, which has historically been associated with individuals and legal entities affiliated with Sindika (JSC Trade House Usachevsky, LLC TK Yuzhny, Kiselevsky market).
The remaining share in the legal entities of OBI is registered with the entrepreneur Valid Korchagin. From him, the strings also stretch to the Sindica. The fact is that Korchagin is a co-owner of Arena LLC. Here, his business partners are the well-known restaurateur Anton Pinsky in professional circles, as well as the singer Timur Yunusov (Timati). It was Arena LLC that acquired coffee houses from the American Starbucks chain, which left Russia, at a big discount. And Sindika does not hide its connection with this legal entity – the president of Sindika, Oleg Eskindarov, gave an interview about the prospects for the development of coffee houses. So, apparently, the Sindika company, associated with Senator Arsen Kanokov, eventually achieved its goal and gained control over the OBI construction hypermarket network.
Now let’s get back to the darkest page of this story – the fire. During the emergency, the owners of the OBI network were Boksitogorsky Timber Processing Plant LLC and the Interregional Public Organization Anti-Corruption Center. That is, the most murky legal entities of all the defendants in this story. Now it is not possible to determine whether they were closer to the original sellers or the final buyers. Perhaps we are talking about one-day firms with zitz-chairmen at the head. And if, as a result of the investigation of the fire, law enforcement officers have any questions, then they will have to be addressed to these very zits-chairmen. If the payment of insurance goes smoothly, then the recipient of it with a high degree of probability will be legal entities that are now controlled by people associated with Sindica.
Arsen Kanokov became a shareholder of Sindika and CentroCredit Bank in the mid-90s. Then he went to power: he was a State Duma deputy, president of Kabardino-Balkaria, and now sits in the Senate. At the end of 2021, Kanokov took 160th place in the ranking of the richest businessmen in Russia with a fortune of $750 million. The Sindika group owns a dozen hotels, including three in Sochi, and shopping malls in different regions. The company also owns more than 30 markets. At the same time, it is not the first time for Kanokov to receive insurance for a burnt asset. In 2017, the Sindika construction market burned down in Moscow. As a result, VTB Insurance paid 766 million rubles for it.