Lenta Shareholders' Fight Goes to Court

Shareholders of Lenta, the country's third-biggest food retailer, are battling in court for control of the company after failing to agree on funding for expansion.

A judge in the British Virgin Islands is hearing cases filed by Lenta founder Oleg Zherebtsov against co-owner August Meyer and another mounted by Meyer against Zherebtsov, Meyer's spokeswoman said Wednesday. The partners planned last month to replace the company's board because of the disagreement.

Lenta has said it may hold an initial public offering or sell a stake this year to fund store openings as rising incomes enable consumers to turn away from open markets. Zherebtsov ousted Sergei Yushchenko as chief executive earlier this month, a step that Meyer has said was taken without board approval and has vowed to fight in court.

Yushchenko joined an "alliance with a small group of shareholders and prepared documents to sell the company" without his approval, Zherebtsov, who also is chairman, said in a statement dated Jan. 25 and e-mailed Jan. 28.