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 State Enforcement Service arrests Furshet retail chain assets, - Ukrainski Novyny

The State Enforcement Service (ES) of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine has seized and distrained more than 7,000 square meters of retail space of Furshet - one of the largest Lviv supermarkets.

Enforcement proceedings were carried out on the basis of executive documents regarding the debt collection under the loan of $23 million.

Earlier, the governmental enforcement officers had arrested Furshet assets located in Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Kamianets-Podilskyi, and Ternopil as stated in the ES resolution, the text of which is at Ukrainski Novyny disposal.

According to media reports, the Furshet supermarkets chain is owned by Ihor Balenko and French group Auchan through the British company Anthousa LTD established for the purpose of business development in Ukraine and Moldova.

Back in 2007, under the program of supermarkets chain development, Balenko drew down commercial bank loans, in particular, from such banks as Ukrsibbank, Raiffeisen Bank Aval, Kreditprombank, OTP Bank, Pravex-Bank, and Privatbank.

However, these ambitious expansion plans were not realized, and total net debt to those banks, including the EBRD, amounts right now to about $160 million. Auchan, despite its interest in the project, stepped back from solving the problems connected with Anthousa LTD debts and focused on the development of its own chain.

That was the reason why in the end Ihor Balenko was left on his own in protecting Furshet assets from creditors' claims and governmental enforcement services. The businessman employed traditional methods: restructured and repurchased its debts through related persons and offered to repay creditors at the expense of the rent.

Thus, at the end of 2015, the EBRD sold with a large discount its Furshet loan claim rights to Ihor Balenko's business partner who supplied all sorts of goods for the chain purposes. At the start of 2016, the businessman completed the restructuring of the Furshet group corporate structure, and as a result, group's assets, which had been sold at a nominal price, were moved to offshore countries.

According to the Unified Register of Legal Entities of Ukraine, unknown offshore companies from the British Virgin islands, Belize, Seychelles, and also Scotland became the new shareholders of the Furshet group companies (such as Furshet-Tsentr, Furshet-Region, Set-Market, Stroy-Market, Garantiya-Market, Stroy-Market Group,Gospodarnyk Plus, and Sosed), having bought them for a dirt-cheap price of 10,000 UAH (approx $375 as of today).

As media report, the Furshet supermarkets chain has about 100 grocery stores in Ukraine and Moldova. Also, several supermarkets are operating in the territory of occupied Crimea. Due to the difficulties related to logistics and supply, the chain owners planned to sell their Crimean business to Russians.
 
 
 
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