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Business Breakfast with Kostyantyn Shkolyarenko and Valeriy Lubenets: How to recognize and neutralize agrarian charlatans?
02 June 2015
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Unreliable borrowers are headache for suppliers and banks. FUIB's Deputy Chairman of the Board, Kostyantyn Shkolyarenko, and the founder of the company "Service-Agroholding" Valeriy Lubenets told Latifundist.com during a business breakfast about the transformation of agricultural holdings from attractive investment targets and honest partners into unreliable borrowers, about the loss of trust in the owners of the companies and about the efforts of the creditors to defend their rights with the help of the law.

Latifundist.com: The situation with the agricultural holding TAKO is a negative precedent in the domestic agricultural market when scandalous corporate conflicts migrate from the plane of economic disputes into the plane of the Criminal Code. Tell us how it all began?

KostyantynShkolyarenko: In the spring of 2013 FUIB gave the company TAKO a loan of $15 million in the today's equivalent. Intended purpose of the loan was to refinance another loan taken from UniCreditBank (former "Ukrsotsbank"). A little later we learned that the loan funds were used not for the intended purpose. However, the interests on the loan were paid regularly. But in May 2014, the company stopped repaying the loan in full. Owners of TAKO, including the company's founder Dmitro Kolesnyk and known in Ukraine raider Borys Podolskyi were not open for contact.

Valeriy Lubenets: We worked with TAKO over the past four years. In the first year everything was perfect, they paid on time and even with the exchange rate differences. At that time, TAKO was for me a model of running the agricultural business in terms of the introduction of technologies and approaches to the organization of production. The company developed technologically properly - more than 8 t/ha of maize, more than 3 t/ha of soybeans. These results were sufficient to make payments to suppliers even at a high debt load.

But in the autumn of 2013, at the maturity date of the payment, management of TAKO declared that the payment would not be complete (2.4 million UAH), motivating it with the under-received part of corn seeds (0.6 million UAH). Although this situation has been resolved by the parties before the spring sowing season, the fine for the incomplete delivery was never properly registered in the legal way. The owners of the company promised to return the difference, if we agree to work with TAKO in 2014. And "Service-Agroholding" provided the agricultural holding with a trade credit for 50 million UAH under avalized bills that we have not even seen. In autumn we were offered categorically to settle using the price of seed soybean at a price of commodity soybean. The price difference between them is almost 100%. Therefore, we refused such a "profitable" deal, finding it untenable. At the same time, on the part of the agricultural holding there was even no attempt to agree on some kind of debt restructuring.

Latifundist.com: What was the "boiling point" for the transfer of relations into the judicial plane?

Kostyantyn Shkolyarenko: First of all the behavior of the TAKO's owners was alarming. They were hiding from the representatives of the bank, they did not respond to letters and phone calls and did not arrive at the meetings; at the same time they took steps to prevent the bank's accsess to the collateral. In the event of inaction, the bank risked to stay without both - money and collateral. When in the autumn the mortgaged grain was not delivered to the elevator, FUIB filed a lawsuit. Communicating with colleagues in the market, we found out that TAKO stopped pay at some point of time not only us, but absolutely all of its creditors. Until the fall, the bank led negotiations with TAKO and proposed programs of debt restructuring. We have tried to find a compromise for a long time, until we realized that the company is simply playing for time.

Valeriy Lubenets: For me personally, failure to return 52 million UAH to the company's account meant the collapse of the whole business. Troubling was the fact that in the same way TAKO behaved with other suppliers. Trading house "Nasinnya" and "Ukrainian agro-chemical company" did not receive money for products supplied. We coordinated our efforts with them and prepared an open letter signed by the heads of these three companies calling upon the rest of suppliers and distributors not to cooperate with TAKO in 2015 as long as they do not settle their old debts. Owners of TAKO made an appointment and asked to withdraw our signature from the letter. It became clear: further negotiations are useless. Therefore, at the end of autumn, we decided to defend our rights in court.

Full text of the interview please find at Latifundist

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