Retailer Eldorado Faces Back Tax Claim

MTAn Eldorado store on Olimpiisky Prospekt in northern Moscow. The firm's owner says it faces a bill for 8 billion rubles.
Eldorado, one of the country's largest home-electronics retailers, is facing back tax claims of up to $624 million, which could force it to sell some assets, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

Kommersant quoted the firm's key shareholder, Igor Yakovlev, as saying the company had been hit with a 8 billion ruble ($333 million) back tax claim, while other sources said the claim could be as big as 15 billion rubles ($624 million).

Yakovlev said he would have to sell part of the business if the case is lost. The sums date back to 2004 and 2005.

Back tax claims have become the most feared tool of state authorities since the bankruptcy and the subsequent nationalization of oil major Yukos.

Many firms in other sectors from telecoms to gas companies have received back tax claims, but, unlike Yukos, most have managed to escape relatively unhurt by challenging claims in courts and managing to reduce them substantially.

Kommersant said the claims against Eldorado could signal the beginning of wider checks of retailers.

Home-electronics and white-goods retailer M.Video, the country's only listed electronics retailer, last year raised $365 million in an initial public offering that valued the firm at $1.25 billion.

The country's listed food retailers are X5 Retail Group, Magnit, Dixy and Sedmoi Kontinent.

Eldorado had a turnover of $6 billion last year and a total debt of $1 billion.