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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Firm Alleges Truly Hostile Takeover Bid

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brokerage representatives accompanied by armed thugs threatened employees at a city fashion house during an uninvited visit to discuss the brokerage's purchase of 30 percent of the fashion firm, officials at the St. Petersburg Fashion House said.

Svetlana Stepanova, director of the fashion house, said that on the morning of March 10, 30 employees of the Regionalny Fondovy Dom, or RFD, brokerage -- many carrying guns -- entered the fashion firm's premises and demanded that employees hand over their shares in the closed stock company.

"They entered my office and demanded that I give them all our papers," Stepanova told a March 13 press conference. "They made threatening sounds with the breechblocks of their guns. We were all scared."

The confrontation came after Stepanova filed a complaint with the police earlier on March 10 asking for an injunction to stop RFD from purchasing any more stock in the firm after RFD representatives had bought 30 percent of the fashion company's shares in three days starting March 7.

The director of the brokerage firm refused to comment Thursday, but an employee from his firm who refused to be identified confirmed the Monday meeting and that the brokers had armed men with them.

"We have the right to be accompanied by our bodyguards, don't we?" said the employee in a telephone interview Thursday.

Fashion house employees called the police, who arrived about half an hour after the RFD representatives had entered the premises. The police took the brokerage employees to the police department and released them later the same day after questioning.

The St. Petersburg police press service could not confirm the incident.

The incident comes after RFD representatives visited more than 100 shareholders, asking them to sell their shares in the company for 70,000 rubles (about $12.50) a share, Stepanova said, adding that shareholders unwilling to sell were threatened.

"The average monthly salary of our employees is 560,000 rubles, and when the shareholders were offered 4 million, or even 5 million rubles for their shares [by RFD], they agreed. Some of them have never seen so much money in their life," she explained.

But Stepanova insisted the RFD share purchases were against the company's rules.

"According to the company's laws, our shareholders are not allowed to sell their shares," Stepanova said. She said 18 of the shareholders have so far successfully claimed their stock back from notaries.