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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tagansky Vows to Fight Takeover

VedomostiTagansky general director Vladimir Kozlov accused Agros of buying 'stolen shares.'
The head of a leading Moscow meat factory at the center of a bitter ownership struggle vowed Wednesday to fend off any takeover attempt by Vladimir Potanin's Interros.

Interros' agricultural arm, Agros, said late Tuesday that it had bought a controlling stake in the Tagansky meat-processing factory from MDM-Bank for an undisclosed sum and was willing to invest $10 million to modernize the plant to produce high-quality poultry and pork.

But Tagansky general director Vladimir Kozlov accused Agros of buying "stolen shares" and said he and other members of management are the rightful shareholders of a majority of the company.

"We will fight this [hostile takeover attempt] every way we can," Kozlov said.

Tagansky produces some 60 tons of meat products per day, or about 5 percent of the Moscow market, and is a debt-free company that posted a profit last year of more than $3 million.

City Hall owns 25 percent of Tagansky and, until recently, management owned 58 percent. Employees own the rest.

But last week Kozlov accused a group of "unknown people," led by a Moscow region resident named Nikolai Kolosov, of blackmailing five of the 16 managers at the plant into giving up their stakes in the company.

Kozlov said that in the last two months, Kolosov had collected 14 percent of the management's 58 percent stake by putting "tremendous pressure" on managers and threatening their lives.

Legally, managers are not allowed to share their stake without first offering them to other shareholders, but the law does not ban giving the shares away.

"Whatever happened to these shares before does not interest us," Agros spokesman Pavel Oliyanchuk said, adding that Agros is confident it now legally controls Tagansky because it bought the stake from MDM, one of the nation's largest banks.

MDM, however, denies that it sold the stake to Agros.

Konstantin Malofeyev, head of corporate securities for MDM, said the bank only brokered the deal between Agros and a "group of foreign investors," whom he declined to name.

"We had to make the deal quickly because those who wanted to sell the shares gave us only two days, saying they had another purchaser in mind," Malofeyev said.

"We did not do due diligence, but our own scrutiny of the documents presented by the sellers proved that they are genuine and legally correct."

He declined to comment on whether the shares consolidated by Kolosov were part of the stake bought by Agros, saying only that the shares were bought from "foreign investors who spoke a foreign language."

A source close to the deal, however, confirmed that the shares acquired by Kolosov were part of Agros' stake.

"Where else could these shares have appeared from?" the source said.

Kolosov could not be reached and City Hall said Wednesday that it was not ready to comment.

Oliyanchuk did not say when Agros intends to make its first appearance at the factory.