15:43 13.02.2018

Businessman Bakhmatiuk repeatedly calls on NBU to hold his former banks' debt restructuring talks

Businessman Bakhmatiuk repeatedly calls on NBU to hold his former banks' debt restructuring talks

The owner of the Ukrlandfarming agricultural holding and former owner of VAB Bank and Bank Financial Initiative Oleh Bakhmatiuk has confirmed his readiness to repay UAH 19 billion of debts of these banks to the state in the full amount if the debts are restructured for 10 years at low rate. He has accused the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) of the unwillingness to peacefully settle the dispute.

"I am ready to pay all the debts of VAB bank and Bank Financial Initiative in full to the state, but the NBU even does not want to come to the negotiating table," he said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

Bakhmatiuk said that over the past year about UAH 700 million of interest and other payments were paid for these debts, but in the case with VAB, the liquidation procedure has already been started. According to him, there is a struggle for assets in several hundred cases in courts, which prevents the effective work of Ukrlandfarming and the repayment of these debts in the future.

"A lot of property has been taken away, but when the Individuals's Deposit Guarantee Fund or rather the National Bank takes these assets, they do not know what to do with them. As a result, a huge depreciation of property is seen, both movable and immovable," he said.

"The armies of lawyers are working on their part and on our part. It is unlikely that the money will be enough to pay for their services when selling this property," the ex-owner of the banks said.

According to him, Bank Financial Initiative is on the fence about, since on April 13, 2017 the Higher Administrative Court of Ukraine declared illegal the introduction of the temporary administration into it by the National Bank, but this decision was not executed, although it remains in force.

Bakhmatiuk pointed out his readiness to provide a business model for repayment of these UAH 19 billion of debts, recalling that Ukrlandfarming continues generating the turnover of about $1 billion per year, its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) are about $200 million, and the potential value of the agricultural holding may be about $2 billion.

The businessman reminded that the government offered this restructuring for 10 years to former shareholders of PrivatBank.

The owner of Ukrlandfarming believes that external creditors would approve the restructuring deal with the National Bank and the Individuals' Deposits Guarantee Fund.

"I am negotiating with external creditors without the National Bank. Of course, external creditors would calm down more when the issue with the NBU is resolved," Bakhmatiuk said. He recalled that in recent years, these creditors were paid $507 million with a total debt of about $1.9 billion.

The businessman said that the solving of the issue with the National Bank would open a potential way to attract a strategic investor for Ukrlandfarming and return to the loan markets.

"Therefore, I say to the yesterday's or today's prime minister: now this is my problem, and tomorrow it will be yours. Let's keep the company under a conditions that we commit ourselves to repay debts without discounts... Only those who would seize these assets at low price would win from the destruction of the company. This is a small group of people - 5-10 people, who will earn $100, $200 or $300 million on this," Bakhmatiuk said.

He recalled that he personally handed the proposal to restructure the debt to the governor of the NBU Valeriya Gontareva in the office of the president and sent them also to the Deposit Guarantee Fund, but there is no reaction to them, even after Gontareva resigned in May 2017.

The ex-owner of the banks also announced his readiness for carrying out forensic audits of these financial institutions. He proposes, in the absence of mutual trust, to involve qualified authoritative advisors in the negotiation process.

Bakhmatiuk said that this year is decisive for resolving the conflict with the NBU.

As reported, on March 20, 2015, the NBU decided to revoke the banking license and liquidate VAB Bank and in June 2015 the central bank declared Bank Financial Initiative insolvent. Then the National Bank filed five lawsuits against Bakhmatiuk seeking to collect debts under a personal guarantee agreement for the obligations of these credit institutions, which in total owed the NBU refinancing of UAH 10.9 billion.

In turn, Bakhmatiuk allocated the responsibility for the worsening of the situation in the banks to the National Bank of Ukraine and announced his readiness for a compromise with the NBU on the issue of sureties, offering an amicable settlement with installments for seven years with the possibility to increase the collateral to the National Bank.

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