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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SUN Takes Wimm-Bill-Dann to Court

The Primorye arbitration court has ruled that all decisions made at a disputed meeting of shareholders of the Vladivostok-based brewery Pivoindustria Primorya are to be suspended until it examines claims that investment firm SUN Group was shut out of a meeting.

A hearing has been set for Jan. 4.

The court has issued injunctions forbidding majority shareholder Wimm-Bill-Dann from registering the brewery’s charter that was amended at the meeting, issuing additional shares or other activities based on the decisions from the meeting that have been challenged.

The nation’s leading milk and juice producer, Wimm-Bill-Dann, snatched Pivoindustria Primorya from under the nose of SUN Group in August when Wimm-Bill-Dann bought a 52 percent controlling stake in the brewery from the Far Eastern Shipping Co. for $4 million.

SUN Group, a partner in the nation’s No. 2 brewer, Sun Interbrew, and holder of a 29 percent stake in Pivoindustria Primorya, had previously had their sights on the block of shares. And on Nov. 23, SUN’s representatives were shut out of the brewery’s shareholder meeting.

The meeting removed SUN Group’s two representatives from the Pivoindustria board and the brewery’s charter was changed, notification of which has been sent to the group’s founding company in the British Channel island of Jersey.

SUN shareholders didn’t wait for the documents to reach the remote island, and filed a claim with the Primorye arbitration court.

"We [the holders of the blocking stake] were not allowed to take part in the meeting of shareholders, we have no information about the results of this meeting and we will seek to have the decisions taken at it annulled," said Igor Gundobin, a partner with SUN Group.

Wimm-Bill-Dann’s press service said that the main reason for not admitting SUN representatives to the shareholder meeting was the "superficial approach of SUN lawyers to executing the documents required for admittance."

Wimm-Bill-Dann spokeswoman Yulia Belova said her firm did not prevent SUN from taking part in the meeting. "The administration of the enterprise was in charge of all arrangements in connection with the meeting," Belova said. "In principle, we did not have any objections to SUN."

Decisions adopted at the meeting, which included approving the amended charter of Pivoindustria Primorya and elections to the board of seven directors were sent to the address of SUN’s founding company, she said.

Belova declined to comment on the nature of the changes made to the charter. "We will prepare ourselves to defend our interests in court," she said. "This is the legal means for resolving the conflict."

According to the information provided by the Business Analytica agency, Pivoindustria Primorya controls about 7.3 percent of the local bottled beer market.

SUN Group is a private equity investment fund, established in 1996. Its investments in various projects in Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States are estimated at about $155 million. SUN owns one-third of the Sun Interbrew holding, which controls about 24 percent of the domestic beer market. Sun Interbrew’s sales were $186 million over the first nine months this year.