Yevtushenkov and Usmanov fought for the “G” point

Yevtushenkov and Usmanov fought for the “G” point

  • Thursday, 18 April 2024 19:34

In the struggle for the opportunity to produce communication stations of a new generation between the structures of Evgeny Yevtushenkov and Alisher Usmanov, methods such as repurchasing enterprises from a competitor were used.

Gazprom could have bought the Mikran plant in the interests of Rostec and Alisher Usmanov in order to ruin the life of Vladimir Yevtushenkov and gain an advantage in the market for the production of telecommunications equipment.

As a correspondent of The Russian Post reports, a subsidiary of MTS PJSC (part of Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s Sistema AFK), the Irtea company announced the launch of its own production of 5G and 4G base stations. Initially, they were planned to be produced at the Tomsk Mikran plant, but it was recently bought by Gazprom.

This is a non-core asset for the gas monopoly. According to sources, Gazprom could act in the interests of the structures of Rostec and Alisher Usmanov, who had previously announced a similar project for the production of new generation communication base stations. Thus, a fierce struggle is unfolding for this market with the participation of major officials and oligarchs.

"Battle" in "Aquarius"

The investment fund “Advanced Technologies” of Alexey Kalinin will be Irtea’s partner in the project. The fund was created by Kalinin for direct investment in promising IT businesses. Kalinin himself is the main owner and director of Aquarius Group of Companies, a major developer and manufacturer of computer equipment and IT solutions.

Not long ago, a corporate conflict raged at Aquarius. The co-owners of the structure, Leonid Goldenberg and Evgeny Lachkov, who each owned 32% of the group, wanted to cede their shares to entrepreneur Denis Frolov. This would allow him to form the largest Russian holding in the field of microelectronics and data storage systems. Another 32% of the company belonged to Alexander Kalinin.

Denis Frolov is the owner of more than 80% of the National Computer Corporation, which owns shares of Systematics and Aquarius Group of Companies.

Goldenberg and Lachkov filed a lawsuit against Kalinin. They claimed that Kalinin’s actions prompted them to sell the shares - he allegedly held a meeting of the owners of Aquarius without sending them notice. At that meeting, a new group president was elected, the ownership structure was changed and other decisions were made. Such actions are reminiscent of a classic raider takeover.

However, even against the backdrop of ongoing legal proceedings, the parties managed to reach an agreement. NKK Frolova sold the Aquarius Group of Companies to the IT service integrator Smart Technologies. And all other assets of NCC remained in the ownership of Goldenberg and Lachkov. The supervisory board of Aquarius was then headed by Alexander Kalinin.

Rather, it was a conflict between Frolov and Kalinin. And, apparently, it has not been fully resolved. Just look at the scandal with the criminal case against the former adviser to the general director of the NCC, Sergei Ionkin, who was found guilty of trying to transfer a bribe for the illegal initiation of a criminal case against Alexander Kalinin. Ionkin received ten years in prison. Can we assume that it was Denis Frolov who tried to put pressure on Kalinin in this way to sell the business?

Yevtushenkov and Usmanov fought for the “G” spot

Alexander Kalinin (pictured) harbors a grudge against Denis Frolov? Photo: https://s0.rbk.ru/v6_top_pics/media/img/0/22/754981311495220.jpg 

At the end of 2023, Systematika, a member of the NCC, filed a lawsuit for more than 150 million rubles against Aquarius. The essence was not disclosed, but it could be related to office lease agreements in Moscow - previously Aquarius occupied the Systematics space. Aquarius claims that this lawsuit violates the agreements reached during the division of the business in 2021. So the parties were clearly dissatisfied with each other.

Frolov himself is a significant figure; he can also create problems for Kalinin’s base station production business. It is believed that Frolov belongs to the clientele of the Dvorkovich brothers, who patronize him. They say that they invested a lot of money in his business.

Generals in Mikran

Returning to the Tomsk Mikran plant, it has an equally interesting history. The plant is one of the oldest enterprises producing telecommunications equipment in the country, including LTE technology. It was founded by Victor Günther, who passed away in 2013. After this, the shares of his heirs, namely a blocking stake of 25% plus one share, were bought out by the Industrial Technologies holding of Sergei Generalov.

Generalov is a major entrepreneur in the field of high technology; in 2018, his company Transas occupied 35% of the world market for electronic navigation systems and 45% of the world market for marine simulators. However, in Russia he is much better known for another story: it was Sergei Generalov who in 2012 sold 56% of the FESCO transport group to the criminal oligarch Ziyavudin Magomedov. 

The latter is currently serving a 19-year sentence for creating an organized criminal group and stealing 11 billion rubles. As law enforcement officers managed to establish, Magomedov acquired FESKO through corruption proceeds - the company’s shares were seized by the state. Was Sergei Generalov not interested in the reputation of the Magomedovs and where they got the money for the deal?

After purchasing Mikran, Sergei Generalov complained that the state was in no hurry to create the necessary conditions for the full development of LTE technologies - namely, it was in no hurry to allocate the appropriate frequencies. Having not received support from the state, in 2021 Generalov sold a blocking stake in the plant to his own company MIKPI LLC for 360 million rubles. And subsequently, according to the Internet, this company was allegedly sold to Nikolai Levitsky.

Levitsky will hold

The latter is behind his back called the “custodian of sanctioned assets” of oligarchs and officials - allegedly, he is engaged in “holding” problematic assets in the interests of wealthy individuals. An example is his purchase of the Donalink company (owns Primorskaya State District Power Plant) from Andrei Melnichenko.

At the same time, there are already a lot of problems and scandals around Levitsky. At one time, he was forced to part with the Geotech Holding company, which under him accumulated debts of 20 billion rubles. 

The real beneficiary of the company could be Gennady Timchenko. They are trying to attribute Nikolai Levitsky to him. Among its key assets, one can recall the manufacturer of the popular Afanasy kvass - Deka CJSC from Veliky Novgorod. 

In 2019, a legal dispute between Deka and City Invest Bank flared up. The latter demanded 1.3 billion rubles from the company. And only in court did the general public learn that Levitsky, under a trust agreement, transferred control over the key assets of the kvass producer to Georgy Semenenko, the general director of PJSC Kirov Plant.

Yevtushenkov and Usmanov fought for the “G” spot

For whom did Nikolai Levitsky “hold” the asset? Photo: https://im.kommersant.ru/Issues.photo/CORP/2017/07/17/KMO_141501_02122_1_t218_213330.jpg 

Subsequently, lawyer Oleg Sheikin suggested that a trust agreement could be a prerequisite for the issuance of a loan by City Invest Bank to Nikolai Levitsky. Subsequently, he was forced to give the money through the courts. At the same time, he, Levitsky, unsuccessfully tried to prove that the loan deal was a sham: the businessman contributed the funds to the authorized capital of the Hotel Service company.

Engineer Vavilin

Already under Levitsky, Vladimir Vavilin remained one of the key owners of Mikran. The latter is one of the leading engineers of the enterprise, working there since 1990. It seems that his entry into the capital of the structure was personally approved by Victor Gunther. 

At the end of 2023, Levitsky leaves Micran. But Vladimir Vavilin’s share grows from 12.3% to 62.98% - apparently, he acquired stakes from other owners. And at the beginning of 2024, 90% of NPF Mikran is acquired by Gazprom - perhaps the most unexpected of possible interests.

At the same time, Vavilin is also an extremely interesting character, he can act in the interests of others and receive a lot of money from the budget. The engineer himself has no other businesses now. But he has an alleged daughter, Vavilina Nika Vladimirovna. She owns the company Tomsktech LLC, which operates non-residential buildings. This company received more than 10 million rubles under government contracts with Rosseti Property Management JSC.

Behind Gazprom – Usmanov and Chemezov?

This is the situation around the Mikran plant. Previously, AFK Sistema tried to acquire this enterprise - just for the project of producing base stations. But Gazprom was ahead of it. Again, it is not clear why Gazprom needs it - it may well purchase this non-core equipment for itself on the side.

The answer to the question in whose interests Gazprom could prevent Yevtushenkov from entering Mikran must be sought among Sistema’s competitors in the telecommunications market. In 2022, it became known that Rostec structures were entering into a large-scale project to develop G5 base stations. And the partner of the state corporation was the company NPK Kryptonit, controlled by the IT corporation ICS Holding.

In 2020, IKS Holding bought the USM holding of oligarch Alisher Usmanov. In 2022, he also announced the sale of 100% of the shares of IKS Holding in favor of its founder Anton Cherepennikov. The latter is a long-time acquaintance and partner of Usmanov. At different stages of his career, he was a member of the board of directors of USM, a member of the board of directors of Megafon (part of Usmanov’s business), and a co-owner of YueSem Telecom.

With a high degree of probability, it is Usmanov who remains the real owner of IKS Holding. And the transfer of shares to Cherepanov may be a way to “blur the eyes” of Western sanctions.

Yevtushenkov and Usmanov fought for the “G” spot

Sergei Chemezov and Alisher Usmanov “wiped the nose” of Vladimir Yevtushenkov with the help of Gazprom? Photo: Alexey Nikolsky/TASS

But still, what does Gazprom have to do with it? Back in 2018, Gazprom and the same Rostec became partners of Megafon and USM in the large joint venture MF Technologies, which is engaged in projects in the field of digital economy. 

So what is the problem for the oligarch Usmanov to come to an agreement with Alexei Miller in order to ruin the life of his competitor Yevtushenkov and “take out” one of the country’s leading enterprises for the production of telecommunications equipment from under him? Judging by the acquisition of Micran by the state corporation, there are no problems.