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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nizhny Margarine Plant For Sale on the Internet

MTAn advertisement on the Lenta.ru web site says 90 percent of NMZhK is up for sale.
A 90 percent stake in of one of the largest margarine plants in the country is being sold over the Russian Internet.

Galina Sidorok, a board member and co-owner of the Nizhny Novgorod Oil and Fat Factory, or NMZhK, said she does not know who is behind the offer and that the factory owners fear a hostile takeover bid.

Banner advertisements reading "Today 90 percent of the shares of NMZhK have gone on sale" appeared on Lenta.ru, Utro.ru, Gazeta.ru and >, Finmarket.ru late Friday. No contact details were provided.

Mikhail Gurevich, editor in chief of Utro.ru, said the announcement was placed like any other banner, with the exception that the process had been completed in one day.

The client said that he would not immediately reveal his name and that he would place the advertisement again in the middle of this week, Gurevich said.

Sidorok said owners of NMZhK -- the biggest margarine producer in the country, with average annual revenues of $85 million -- were looking for the person who placed the announcement and would "continue the conversation with them in court."

The Profit company -- founded by former Agriculture Minister Nikolai Nesterov, Sidorok and Vyacheslav Romanov, who all are on the NMZhK board of directors -- owns 85.7 percent of the factory.

Nesterov said he did not know who placed the advertisement but that it could only be a big player "on the level of [Siberian Aluminum's] Oleg Deripaska."

Sidorok said management's stake in the company could have been sold without its permission following a court case in which the NMZhK's share register was confiscated.

A court in the Penza region town of Zheleznodorozhny on Oct. 31 ordered that the register be sent to the St. Petersburg-based Yediny Registrator after ruling in favor of a minority shareholder.

Alexei Martynov -- a Penza resident who owns 20 shares, or 0.003 percent, of NMZhK -- had claimed that factory management violated the law on joint-stock companies and refused to register him as a shareholder.

The factory's register was confiscated from the Nizhny Novgorod-based First Independent Registrator on Nov. 5 and sent to Yediny Registrator.

On Nov. 11, however, the Zheleznodorozhny court canceled its decision at the request of NMZhK, and Martynov's appeal was transferred to the city arbitration court, Sidorok said.

NMZhK then sent a copy of the court decision to Yediny Registrator along with a request to return the factory register, she said, but the court did not comply.

"They just kicked the courier out onto the street, and the letter didn't get to the registrar," Sidorok said.

Yediny Registrator declined to comment.

Major food companies Rusagro, Razgulyai-UKRROS, EFKO and Agros said they did not know who was interested in taking control of NMZhK. The Planeta Group declined to comment.

"Only a mad or a very large structure" would attempt to take shares from Nesterov, said an official at a rival company who declined to be identified.