Without money but with wings: who to get VIM-Avia's collateral

The pledge holders will have to make significant discounts to realize aircraft equipment

The creditors of VIM-Avia flooded the courts with lawsuits demanding debt payments. The carrier has nothing to pay, especially as major part of its property is pledged to banks. As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, it pledged at least 20 engines for Boeing and other aviation equipment. In case of bankruptcy, it will be difficult to realize all this without a discount. The company of the Mursekaevs itself now has even bigger problems than financial ones. Read more in the material of our newspaper.

4 banks and 20 engines

Kommersant newspaper named the amount of damages in the case of VIM-Avia. It is estimated at 4.7 billion rubles. Among potential victims — banks, leasing companies, as well as travel agencies and other counterparties, which may not recover their money. What is more, major part of the property of the carrier at the total amount of 2.2 billion rubles, according to the publication, is pledged to the creditors.

There is no full list of creditors of VIM-Avia, but we know that among them — the banks Absolut, Zenit, Avangard of Kirill Minovalov, a businessman, as well as the bank Obrazovanie, which in April lost its license.

A significant share of the assets of the airline until recently was pledged to the bank Zenit (controlled by Tatneft). As security for the loan, it was given 5% of the authorized capital of VIM-Avia, follows from the data of EGRUL [Uniform State Register of Legal Entities]. However, the asset value of this pledge is only 2.500 rubles (the amount of the authorized capital of the carrier — 50,000 rubles).

Besides, Zenit bank previously had several pieces of equipment of VIM-Avia in the pledge. We are talking about 10 aircraft engines PW 2040 and Trent 892B, as well as auxiliary power units. The loans secured by this property were long-term. According to SPARK-Interfax service, the obligations of VIM-Avia on them expired at the end of 2020. But recently, instead of Zenit, RNGO PLC, Moscow, became the owners of these pledges.

Zenit does not name the total amount of VIM-Avia debt, but it states that the company's failure will not affect the bank's financial result. ''Zenit has completely closed the risks associated with credit default of VIM-Avia. Relevant information is available to the CBR. However, we are conducting a constructive dialogue with creditors and public authorities concerning further destiny of the airline,'' the press service of the bank informed Realnoe Vremya.

Avangard Bank since June of 2017 has held the products and aviation spare parts of VIM-Avia at 157.3 million rubles as a security. Absolut Bank holds two Rolls-Royce aircraft engines in pledge. The pledge agreement was concluded in January 2017, and the carrier's obligations to the bank must be repaid at the end of 2023. Two PW 2040 engines were put in pledge to Obrazovanie bank.

VIM-Avia took loans not only from banks. One of the largest mortgagees is the Moscow company Ami-M PLC belonging to a certain Sergey Petrushin. As collateral the company has six aircraft engines (CFM56-3C1, PW 2037M, PW 2040).

According to experts of the company Euroexpert engaged in property valuation, all of these engines are among the most popular in the history of aviation. They are operated on Boeing aircrafts of various modifications (Trent 884 — on Boeing 777; CFM56-3C1 — on Boeing 737-300/400/500; PW 2040 — on Boeing 757). However already now there are newer models with improved features that will soon oust from the market the previous generation of engines completely, Realnoe Vremya was informed in the company.

Absolut Bank and Avangard bank did not reply to the requests, Ami-M did not answer the phone. The representatives of the debtor refused to comment. ''Turn to the following banks for a comment,'' said the representative of VIM-Avia Elena Fedorova.

Now the creditors of the carrier will have to quickly look for where to place its fleet and equipment, says senior analyst at the group of corporate ratings AKRA Alexander Gushchin. It will be difficult for the banks to realize collateral without a significant discount since the high season is already over this year, he believes.

Bad strategy and asset withdrawal

From now and on not only bankruptcy threatens VIM-Avia. On 17 October, the Investigative Committee of Russia (Sledkom) informed about a criminal case against its management and owners. Signs of deliberate bankruptcy are seen in the situation with the airline. The investigative committee considers that in 2016-2017 the carrier, experiencing difficulties, entered into unfavorable transactions, which caused ''huge financial costs'' and inability to meet obligations to creditors. The purpose of the transactions was, in particular, ''withdrawal of assets abroad in favour of affiliated institutions'', the committee reports.

On 17 October, the Investigative Committee of Russia informed about a criminal case against the management and owners of VIM-Avia. Photo: Irina Plotnikova

According to Sledkom, when concluding several agreements with foreign companies the exact cost of transactions was not specified, in the result, the total amount that VIM-Avia was paying increased several times. To pay contractors, the carrier took on billions of dollars in loans. At the same time, Director General Alexander Kochnev and 'other persons from the number of owners and management' instructed the accountants to distort the statements of the company and to hide the high level of debt load.

Gushchin from AKRA believes that the collapse of VIM-Avia also had economic prerequisites. According to him, from 2016 the company conducted an aggressive policy to increase market share. From the beginning of last year to August of the current, the chair capacity of the carrier increased fourfold. Passenger traffic grew more slowly: in 2016 — by 50%, in the first half of 2017 — by 53%. ''All this could affect the efficiency of fleet utilization: according to our estimates, passenger traffic for a seat in the first half of 2017 fell by more than 20% from the level of the first half of 2016,'' says Gushchin.

Besides, he continued, since the end of last year, the airline market witnessed a decline in tariffs. It was partly due to the reduction of operating expenses of airlines, but dumping also had its role. Taken together, this led to the fact that VIM-Avia was unable to generate sufficient money flow to meet commitments, summarizes Gushchin.

In debt but not a bankrupt

At the moment, the company of the Mursekaevs is flooded with claims from creditors. The Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosgidromet, airports, hotels, organizations serving the aircrafts — they all also have claims to them. Almost every day the courts register several statements with claims to VIM-Avia.

However, none of the stages of bankruptcy to the carrier has been introduced. At the end of September, the claim about bankruptcy of VIM-Avia was filed by bankruptcy supervisor of M Bank, but the court returned its statement.

In June, the carrier began to delay the flights causing problems for many tourists. The situation repeated in September. Moreover, delays acquired a mass character, Rashid Mursekaev announced about a 'difficult economic situation' in the company. Shortly after that, the media reported that the company's founder left Russia, but officially it was not confirmed. Where now Rashid and Svetlana Mursekaevs are located is unknown. Recently, the head of Rosaviatsiya Alexander Neradko has stated that the total debt of VIM-Avia is about 10 billion rubles.

By Artyom Malyutin

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