Boosted by en­ergy hold­ings, Akhme­tov’s for­tune rises

Kyiv Post - - Business - BY VERONIKA MELKOZEROVA MELKOZEROVA@KYIVPOST.COM

The for­tunes of Ri­nat Akhme­tov, Ukraine’s rich­est man, look to have taken a turn for the better.

The Ukrainian oli­garch, en­ergy and in­dus­trial busi­ness mogul from Donetsk placed 439th in the latest Bloomberg Bil­lion­aires In­dex, pub­lished on Sept. 4. Akhme­tov was worth $4.38 bil­lion as of Septem­ber, Bloomberg reck­ons.

That might sound a lot, but it’s less than a quar­ter of the for­tune Akhme­tov had amassed when his wealth peaked on Jan. 23, 2013, at $22.3 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg data.

But that was be­fore the start of EuroMaidan Rev­o­lu­tion and the war in Don­bas in late 2013 and early 2014. Akhme­tov sub­se­quently lost most of his as­sets due to Rus­sia’s oc­cu­pa­tion of parts of the Don­bas. In less than four years, the oli­garch lost more than $18 bil­lion.

How­ever, in 2017 the oli­garch has al­ready man­aged to add more than $1 bil­lion to his for­tune. In March 2016 he was worth $3.37 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg data, but by Au­gust 2017 his wealth had grown to $4.45 bil­lion.

Although Akhme­tov lost some $70 mil­lion in Septem­ber, the oli­garch is still among the top 500 of the world’s rich­est peo­ple, with a to­tal for­tune of $4.38 bil­lion.

Akhme­tov’s wealth started grow­ing again in March 2016, the same month the con­tro­ver­sial Rot­ter­dam Plus en­ergy tar­iff came into force. His wealth took another big hit in March 2017, fall­ing by $1 bil­lion when Ukraine im­posed a trade block­ade on the Rus­sian-oc­cu­pied Don­bas, but it has been on the rise again since then.

Akhme­tov has been re­or­ga­niz­ing his as­sets in the en­ergy sec­tor.

On Aug. 31, the press ser­vice of Akhme­tov’s SCM Group hold­ing re­ported that its af­fil­i­ated company Ornex had bought a 25 per­cent stake in DTEK Dniproen­ergo and DTEK Dniprooblenergo from the State Prop­erty Fund of Ukraine.

And ear­lier, Ornex bought a 25 per­cent stake in DTEK Donet­skoblenergo for Hr 143.81 mil­lion, and 25 per­cent stakes in DTEK Zakhi­den­ergo and Kyiven­ergo, for Hr 417.163 mil­lion and Hr 759.633 mil­lion re­spec­tively.

That makes Akhme­tov a big share­holder in the public util­ity en­ergy sup­pli­ers that pro­vide elec­tric­ity and heat in Kyiv (Kyiven­ergo), Dnipro (DTEK Dniproen­ergo), and in Donetsk and Dnipropetro­vsk oblasts. And with en­ergy prices on the rise, that’s good for Akhme­tov.

Rot­ter­dam plus

In March 2016, Ukraine’s Na­tional En­ergy and Util­i­ties Reg­u­la­tion Com­mis­sion, which is headed by for­mer Roshen con­fec­tionery cor­po­ra­tion man­ager Dmytro Vovk, or­dered that elec­tric­ity pay­ments be cal­cu­lated us­ing a new method — dubbed the “Rot­ter­dam Plus” elec­tric­ity tar­iff for­mula.

Ac­cord­ing to the for­mula, the mar­ket price of elec­tric­ity is based not only on the price of coal, but also the cost of trans­port­ing coal by sea (from the Dutch port of Rot­ter­dam) to Ukraine, and load­ing and un­load­ing it in ports.

The ra­tio­nale for in­tro­duc­ing the for­mula was that since Ukraine has lost ac­cess to its ma­jor coal mines (lo­cated in the Rus­sian-oc­cu­pied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) and started buy­ing coal from abroad (from South Africa, and even Rus­sia) the ex­tra costs had to be ac­counted for.

And af­ter the Rot­ter­dam Plus scheme came into force, Ukrainian en­ergy sup­pli­ers like state-owned Tsen­tren­ergo and Akhme­tov’s DTEK en­ergy company raised elec­tric­ity prices for the pop­u­la­tion and busi­ness.

By April 2016, elec­tric­ity prices had risen by 25 per­cent. Over a year, elec­tric­ity prices in­creased by four times.

Ukraine’s En­ergy and Util­i­ties Na­tional Reg­u­la­tion Com­mis­sion in­sisted it launched Rot­ter­dam Plus tar­iff to make elec­tric­ity prices eco­nom­i­cally jus­ti­fied, and bring them into line with Euro­pean mar­ket rates. How­ever, the com­mis­sion also in­cluded coal ex­tracted in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Dnipropetro­vsk oblast in the Rot­ter­dam scheme, and that coal is much cheaper to pro­duce and trans­port.

Akhme­tov’s DTEK is the only coal min­ing company in Ukraine.

Ukrain­ska Pravda news web­site Chief Edi­tor Sevgil Musayeva wrote in April 2016 that Akhme­tov’s DTEK, a mo­nop­o­list that sets coal prices in Ukraine, was the main ben­e­fi­ciary of the Rot­ter­dam Plus tar­iff scheme — but not the only one.

Tsen­tren­ergo, a state-owned en­ergy company linked to Petro Poroshenko’s close ally Igor Kononenko, also in­creased its prices al­most im­me­di­ately.

“The new tar­iffs reg­u­la­tion for­mula (Rot­ter­dam) will al­low Donetsk oli­garch and Poroshenko’s al­lies to earn more than $1 bil­lion,” Musayeva wrote.

In­ves­ti­ga­tion

In March 2017, the Na­tional An­ti­Cor­rup­tion Bureau of Ukraine or NABU started an in­ves­ti­ga­tion against Ukraine’s Na­tional En­ergy and Util­i­ties Reg­u­la­tion Com­mis­sion on sus­pi­cion of cor­rupt prac­tices. Ac­cord­ing to the United Court Registry of Ukraine, the An­ti­Cor­rup­tion Bureau sus­pects com­mis­sion head Vovk and com­mis­sion mem­bers of col­lud­ing with en­ergy com­pa­nies to in­tro­duce the Rot­ter­dam Plus pricing scheme.

“The na­tional com­mis­sion in­ten­tion­ally in­creased the mar­ket price of coal, and, as a result, the elec­tric­ity price, in or­der to al­low en­ergy com­pa­nies to earn ab­nor­mal prof­its,” reads the case state­ment in the court registry.

Solo­mi­an­sky District Court of Kyiv in May ruled that NABU de­tec­tives could con­fis­cate com­mis­sion doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing re­ports from Akhme­tov’s en­ergy com­pa­nies.

Vovk later tried to can­cel that de­ci­sion in court, but failed.

On Aug. 17, af­ter al­most eight hours of searches of the com­mis­sion’s of­fices, NABU de­tec­tives seized and con­fis­cated doc­u­ments for their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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