When Promsvyazbank went into administration last week, it delayed the closing of a deal in Greece:
But what was Promsvyazbank’s involvement in the transaction? Nobody seemed to know. The investment was supposed to be backed by Western banks, so what was a Russian bank (albeit the country’s 10th largest) doing in the story?
Sources from the consortium told Kathimerini that the letter of guarantee concerns the amount of 24 million euros and was submitted some time ago while the Russian bank in question is not participating in the funding of the transaction. However, due to the temporary – as it is being described – exit of Promsvyazbank from the Swift payment system, the letter of guarantee will have to be renewed.
When the deal was announced in April Reuters noted that:
“The bid for Greece’s second-largest port by Deutsche Invest Equity Partners, which has teamed up with France’s Terminal Link SAS, represents a premium of about 70 percent over the stake’s current market value of 136.5 million euros.”
There are not two but three partners in the consortium that won the bid on the concessions for Thessaloniki.
The smallest stake is held by the Russian Greek Ivan Savvidis through Belterra Investments Limited [registration number 358158, -ed.], which was incorporated in Cyprus in July 2016. Savvidis also has a Belterra Holdings [registration number 155741, -ed.], which he registered in Cyprus in December 2004. Both companies are using the address: 30 Tempon, Engomi 2408, Nicosia. Parenthetically, a binary options firm called 10 Trade is also using this address.
According to a recent Forbes Russia article, “Savvidis enjoys the support of the leftist government of Alexei Tsipras, which causes resentment of the country’s political opposition.”
“After serving in the army, Savvidis worked as a loader at the Don State Tobacco Factory. After graduating from the [Rostov] Institute [of National Economy], he became a manager in the same factory, and in 1993 the employees elected him general director of Don Tobacco, as the enterprise became known. During the privatization Savvidis took at 75.71% stake in the factory. In 2003, he was elected a Deputy in the State Duma (he was a member of United Russia from 2007 to 2011), and transferred the company’s shares to his wife. Now Don Tobacco is one of the few independent cigarette manufacturers in Russia with revenues of 24.6 billion rubles in 2016.”
In 2004, Savvidis created Agrocom Group. This holding company had a revenue of 57.6 billion rubles in 2016, and includes Don Tobacco, a meat complex, the country’s largest sausage production plant, a beverage producer, an aircraft repair factory, a stake in the Rostov-on-Don airport, the Radisson Blu Hotel and other assets. Forbes assesses the Savvidi’s worth at $600 million.
Savvidis has funded football in Rostov for the past 15 years as well. Football also gave Savvidis a foothold in Greece, according to Forbes. As I have noted elsewhere, football clubs are good places to conduct money laundering operations.
Savvidis has been president of the Russian Association of Greek Communities since 2004, and “maintained close relations with the country, obtaining Greek citizenship in January 2013.”
“Literally a month later, Don Tobacco won the tender for the purchase of 50.36% of the manufacturer of SEKAP cigarettes, offering 3.3 million euros to the Agricultural Bank of Greece, and promising to invest another 25 million euros in the company. Almost simultaneously, Savvidis reached an agreement with tobacco cooperative producers SEKE about the purchase of his package SEKAP and brought its share to 84.5%.”
This next bit has been quoted multiple times, but it was too good to pass up:
In support of Tsipras, Savvidis said in an interview with a Greek newspaper: “Listening to his speech, I felt the same as during Vladimir Putin’s speech in 2000.”
The next shareholder in the consortium is the French-Chinese company, Terminal Link SAS, with 33%. China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd., registered in Hong Kong, purchased a 49% stake in Terminal Link SAS in 2013. Terminal Link operates as a subsidiary of CMA CGM SA, a shipping company based in Marseille.
And finally, the largest and most mysterious player is Deutsche Invest Equity Partners GmbH (DIEP). It took me more time to find information about these people than the other two. Unlike the other two partners, this company has no website. The best you can do is pull from CrunchBase’s profile.
The Greek privatization agency (HRADF) names the CEO of DEIP as an Alexander von Mellenthin.
von Mellenthin’s biography varies depending on the company he’s representing, but I was finally able to make a connection through a cached version of dacs-labs.com and I’ve taken a screenshot of Alexander’s profile from there.
Deutsche Invest Equity Partners GmbH is the private equity arm of Goetzpartners. Note that this information is not given elsewhere, but it seems the most likely answer at this point.
von Mellenthin’s profile at Goetzpartners does not mention his involvement with Deutsche at all. But his partner at Deutsche and Goetz, Ruediger Schmid Kuehnhoefer, shows both connections on his profiles at Geotz and on LinkedIn.
An old undated profile (it appears to be about a decade old) of Goetzpartners notes that:
In 2004 the partners combined CEA Europe and TransConnect [von Mellenthin] under the name of goetzpartners, to approach their markets with the concept of ‘One Firm-Two Services’.
In a Greek publication from this past summer, von Mellenthin is identified as a spokesman for DEIP (rather than its CEO) and quoted as stating unequivocally that DEIP has “over 450 investors”, and that “there are no Russian investors. I am clear about this.”
Which brings us back around to the question of Promsvyazbank’s involvement in the financing. And the answer remains unclear.