In the jungle there’s not much call for the subtle touch. So it’s not clear whether Mikhail Fridman’s announcements this week are intended as a dagger or as a club.
By resigning his chairmanship of the management board of TNK-BP, and vacating the chief executive’s role, Fridman (image centre left) hasn’t left the governing board of directors of TNK-BP, the joint venture between BP and Fridman and his partners, German Khan (image centre), Len Blavatnik, and Victor Vekselberg (centre right); the latter combine in a group named AAR after each of the initials of their holdings – Alfa, Access, Renova. (more…)
Judge Galina Fedina ruled this morning, after a brief, open hearing, that she is postponing until June 6 her consideration of the injunction against Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK) finalizing its takeover of Flinders Mines. The action was confirmed by the judge’s spokesman at the Chelyabinsk Court of Appeal no. 18, Olga Tige.
The court website reveals that yesterday the phantom shareholder and plaintiff in the case, Elena Egorova, filed two new motions which the judge conceded today she isn’t ready to consider. The website does not allow the motions themselves to be read. (more…)
In its May 23 edition, the Moscow Times has published the following item, apparently a notice from the press office of United Company Rusal, directed by Vera Kurochkina.
The new statement refers to Russian media reports of six months ago, including a Moscow Times publication which appeared on November 29, entitled “Foreign Journalist Sees RusAl Role in His Visa Trouble”. (more…)
Not even the epitome of Canadian accountability and compliance, Dudley Do-Right, can remember a case when a man who has just defaulted on bank obligations of almost $75 million been allowed to sell promissory notes on his next adventure on the Toronto Stock Exchange. If Dudley is mistaken, and if Maxim Finsky succeeds in launching the Intergeo initial public offering, the market magic spellbinder who will deserve the credit is Corey Copeland (image).
That’s not a dunce’s hat on his head. With degrees from the University of Toronto and Harvard University, Copeland has been the spokesman for large metal and mining companies in the past, like Alcan, Rio Tinto, and Billiton. As reported here, Copeland is the front man for the Intergeo preliminary prospectus issued to the Toronto market on May 14. Company documents say that for his expertise, Intergeo is paying Copeland salary and perks this year of C$522,189. That includes a bonus for his good works last year of C$94,000. If the Intergeo shares make it to market in a few days’ time, he will also be entitled to share options at the IPO price for 0.15% of the total share issue. (more…)
The penultimate move in the two-month contest to stop the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK) takeover of Flinders Mines, scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock local time, is already proving to be as bizarre as everything else recorded in the Chelyabinsk arbitrazh court to date. (more…)
Oleg Deripaska (image centre) has told President Vladimir Putin that the only way to stop the rot at Rusal is to put an internationally respected foreigner at the head of the Rusal board of directors when the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) is held on June 15. Mikhail Prokhorov and Victor Vekselberg have told Putin the only way to stop the rot is to put a trusted Russian at the head of the board, and remove Deripaska from operational control of the company before he destroys it financially.
The foreigner Deripaska has told Putin he wants to appoint as chairman of the Rusal board is Matthias Warnig (image left), whose East German government career is not exactly respected outside Moscow. Because Warnig is also thought to be an early career ally of Putin’s, the Deripaska nomination has been interpreted as Putin’s decision. It isn’t, not yet. (more…)
It’s a pity it had to wait until the Facebook folly for a lawsuit to be launched against Morgan Stanley on the double-barrelled charge — the investment bank and underwriter lies in its prospectuses and makes saps of share-buyers. According to the federal US court filing, “the [Facebook] registration statement and prospectus contained untrue statements of material facts.” In addition, Morgan Stanley is charged with selective disclosure of information, so that “preferred investors” get the better of everyone else in the market. (more…)
Captain Matthew Flinders was a late 18th century British Navy captain and one of the greatest explorer navigators of his time. His circumnavigation around the southern continent he called Australia also led to the naming of dozens of places by his name, along with a species of local citrus tree. He spent so much time at sea, and so little at home, he wrote a book about his shipboard companion which he entitled Trim, Being the True Story of a Brave Seafaring Cat.
Understandably, Flinders Mines (FMS) thought their hole in the ground in Western Australia should be named after the captain, though after their six-month brush with the Russians, Trim might have been more apt. Here’s the tale so far. (more…)
Magic is a type of confidence trickery, but not all confidence tricksters are magicians. The difference is whether, when the magician pulls, the hat has got a real rabbit in it.
Minerals under the ground have something in common with rabbits; that’s to say, sometimes they are there – sometimes there’s only the illusion they are. Junior mining companies have this much in common with magicians – if they point a wand and recite a spell, they expect you to believe they can deliver at the minehead what you can’t otherwise see underground. The other difference is that on the stock exchanges, mining company promoters can collect bigger fortunes than magicians with this sort of hocus pocus. (more…)
Novolipetsk Metallurgical Combine (NLMK) and its owner Vladimir Lisin have won a suppression order against Nikolai Maximov, former owner of the Maxi group of minimills and scrap processors, from the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg. A three-judge panel has imposed a permanent injunction against publication in the press of claims by Maximov against Lisin, ruling that Maximov has made them up and despite dozens of court cases has failed to substantiate them. (more…)
In the tarot pack, the card of the Hanged Man is not one everyone wants to be dealt. To some it portends doom. Others believe it symbolizes the great awakening to occur the moment after death when, if, there is a resurrection. As cards go, it’s a big bettor who wants this one.
This week Sergei Frank, the chief executive of the state tanker group Sovcomflot, decided to resurrect in the UK High Court allegations of fraud and corruption against Sovcomflot’s former ship-chartering partner Yury Nikitin. Some of these charges were tried by the court in 2009, and dismissed in rulings by Justice Andrew Smith of December 2009 and March 2010. (more…)
Sergei Generalov, the controlling shareholder and president of Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco), has apparently decided to sell the company, once the leading dry-cargo shipping company in Russia. The buyer negotiating for the takeover is reported to be the Summa Capital holding of Ziyavudin Magomedov, a rival of Generalov’s in the ports and container segments of the Russian marine market.
Generalov holds about 56% of Fesco through his holding, Industrial Investors. Another 13% of the shares are held as treasury stock through an offshore entity called Neteller Holdings.The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and East Capital, a Swedish investment fund, have been minority stakeholders with 4% and 7%, respectively. Public shareholders of Fesco, whose primary listing is in Moscow, hold another 20%. (more…)
White Tiger Gold (WTG) was supposed to be the curtain-raiser on the Canadian stock market for Mikhail Prokhorov and Maxim Finsky, his childhood playmate, to sell shares in their collection of little known gold and other mineral prospects and mining licences in Russia. That collection is called Intergeo, and it cost Prokhorov and Finsky play money.
At one time, Prokhorov’s former shareholding partner in Norilsk Nickel, Vladimir Potanin, accused him and Finsky of filling Intergeo with stolen goods—licences originally acquired for Norilsk Nickel and with the latter’s money. That case never went to court because Prokhorov and Potanin managed to settle between themselves which side each would get out of the bed they had shared together. Finsky got out too on Prokhorov’s side, and became boss of Intergeo. (more…)
The Fitch ratings agency today issued a warning that growing debt at Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), owned by Victor Rashnikov, is at a “higher level than previously expected”. With prices for MMK’s products falling, the company’s free cashflow is under pressure, the Fitch report claims, as it downgraded its outlook forecast for MMK from stable to negative. The agency said also that it has made no changes to MMK’s long-term and short-term issuer default ratings, which are BB+ and B, respectively. It may issue a downgrade of those, the agency adds, if the negative cashflow persists.
MMK’s version of the Fitch warning attempts a cosmetic makeover. That is as convincing to investors as French silicone is to breasts. (more…)
In Russia, and at sea aboard Russian ships, it’s common for crews not to be paid; the shipowners usually get away with it, at least as far as the General Prosecutor, Yury Chaika, is concerned.. The tale of the Lyubov Orlova, whose two Russian owners abandoned the cruise ship at a Canadian port, defaulted on their port, agent and fuel debts, and marooned the crew without salary or food, is a salutary example.
Not paying Russian seamen, and forcing them to work without pay, forcibly preventing them from leaving the ship, denying them medical treatment if they are injured, and locking them up to die – well, Chaika’s Vladivostok bureau for prosecuting transport offences has decided to bring charges under Article 127, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code. This follows the deaths of two Russian mariners aboard the Russian-owned, Tuvalu-flagged motor ship, SS Ross. It is the first time in living memory that illegal deprivation of an individual’s freedom for the purpose of compelling him to work – slave labour – has ever been charged in a Russian court. (more…)
By all accounts, particularly his own, Alexander Lebedev, aged 52, has been one of those clever KGB agents whose training inculcated the Protestant work ethic, and whose tour of duty in London the wits, to enable him to make a fortune without stealing from anyone; without bribery or administrative resources; without even being on favourable terms with President Vladimir Putin, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, or indeed anyone of significance in post-communist Russia. A private bank belonging originally to Gazprom, and Aeroflot, the state airline, are said to be the hidden hands by which Lebedev helped himself to his plenitude. (more…)
In the Kremlin corridors under the new management, it is generally acknowledged that one of the stupidest things former President Dmitry Medvedev ever did was to order Russia’s representative on the UN Security Council to abstain from the vote and veto of the no-fly zone resolution aimed at the Muammar Qaddafi regime in Libya. That was on March 17, 2010. The Russian intelligence services already knew that US and British submarines were in place under the surface of the Mediterranean, ready to fire missiles to start a war that was intended to end in Qaddafi’s death. It did. (more…)
Whoever Elena Egorova may be, she and Victor Rashnikov, owner of Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), share exactly the same desire for personal anonymity and business secrecy as the Chelyabinsk court case against MMK’s half-billion dollar purchase of an Australian iron-ore mining project reaches its climax later this month. This is their story so far.
If anyone imagined that MMK is a public shareholding company with conventional accountability and corporate governance standards for spending $9 billion in annual revenues and $16 billion in assets, the action by a purported shareholder, with a name, a share, and nothing else, to halt the offshore acquisition has exposed a total blackout of information by Rashnikov’s company, and the refusal of Rashnikov, with 86% of the company shares, to explain his decision-making to his co-shareholders. But from the court file released this week, it now appears the plaintiff shareholder is as keen as the defendant oligarch to keep the evidence and the proceedings secret. (more…)
Every competent gardener knows that horse shit makes valuable fertilizer, so long as you give it at least two months of airing and composting to get rid of the acidity which kills plant roots, and the seeds which grow weeds where you don’t want them. Chicken shit is more balanced, biochemically and horticulturally speaking, because fowls do all their excreting through a single hole. The same can’t be said of the Sunday Telegraph of London or their Russian heroes, Oleg Deripaska and Alexei Mordashov.
That’s because Deripaska and Mordashov pay PR men to place their droppings, all too fresh, in the newspaper; from where energetic reporters, Kamal Ahmed and Elaine Rowley, shovel the product straight on to the Sunday breakfast tables of judges and investors. (more…)
The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.
In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration: “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”
By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”
To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.
A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”
The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.
Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.” Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the 6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.
Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected, Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.
The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.
Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.
By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world. Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.
The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.
Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.” Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.
The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.
Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”
The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire, the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.
In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010. The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”
Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders, knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.
Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.
In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”
This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention. In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.
Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials, to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.
By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.
“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”. He means the Ukraine border is the red line.
Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.
US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11 highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.
In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.
Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.
The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other. Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilificationof society.
In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them. It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.
When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.
While his wife and the Navy officer who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion, or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.
The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.
What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States, is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase. But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.
Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”
In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.
With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”, is just the ticket from now to then.