State-controlled Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) has set up a Dutch company to manage the Russian real estate assets seized from bankrupt tycoon Seán Quinn.
Bergkamp Investments BV, whose main activities are listed as renting out real estate and preparing property assets for sale, has taken over managing a portfolio once valued at €500 million.
The assets, which include a 20-storey office block, a shopping mall and logistics warehouses, were previously managed jointly by the State and a subsidiary of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group until 2015.
Filings made in the Netherlands indicate that the IBRC set up the Bergkamp entity in 2015. More recent filings in Russia show that Bergkamp has two subsidiaries – Bergkamp Logistics BV in Kazan and Bergkamp Investments Moscow BV.
The Bergkamp entities in Russia are being run by local businessman Vitaly Kolosov. Phone calls to his office Moscow went unanswered.
"The vehicle [Bergkamp] was set up to take the assets out of the bankruptcy process [previously ordered by the Russian courts]," IBRC liquidator Kieran Wallace told The Irish Times.
IBRC also had an operation LLC Solids located at an address in Moscow. Liquidators for IBRC say they have no involvement with Solids, which appears to have been tasked with collecting the rent roll for the assets.
Solids had previously been working with a Russian "partner bank" Sovereign Bank, which was shut down by local regulators there due to its "highly-risky credit policy".
The existence of Solids only came to light from filings made with the asset recovery firm QIPG Refinance Ltd to UK Companies House. The latest accounts for the QIPG, which was set up to manage the joint venture with Alfa A1, shows profits almost doubled to $12 million from $6.3 million in the year to June 30th 2017.
Philip McDonagh, Ireland’s ambassador in Moscow at the time of Alfa A1’s appointment, said recovery of the assets was of “paramount importance to Ireland” and progress could improve trade ties with Russia.
Billionaire Fridman’s A1 exited the joint venture two years ago after struggling to sell any of the assets in the teeth of Russia’s recession. Alfa estimated that the portfolio had shrunk in value almost fivefold to €110 million.
A1 is understood to have sold only one asset, a DIY hypermarket in Ekaterinburg, after the Russian economy tumbled in the wake of sanctions, a rouble devaluation and a collapse in oil prices. Two rounds of auctions for the sale of Q-Park, a logistics centre in Kazan once valued at €50 million, failed to attract a single bid.
It is understood that the IBRC has no immediate intention to sell off any of the trophy assets due to the state of the Russian commercial real estate market, which is struggling to grow after a recent recession.
The liquidators of IBRC are suing members of the Quinn family for allegedly putting international assets beyond reach, while the Quinns claim that the liquidation of IBRC was invalid and have sued over the appointment of Mr Wallace as special liquidator.
Igor Ishkov, manager of Q-Park, told Gazeta.ru that the logistics centre was back from the brink and was benefiting from a boom in online shopping. Ozon.ru, Russia's answer to Amazon, has recently taken space, while other clients include McDonald's.
The jewel in Quinn's property empire is the Kutuzoff Tower, a Moscow office block now worth a fraction of its original €140 million value. Tenants at the building, which includes Dunlop and Coca-Cola, said occupancy is very high at about 90 per cent but companies now pay less in roubles compared to their dollar contracts when Quinn was in charge.
Other assets include the Univermag shopping mall in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which was acquired by the Quinn family for €60 million.