14 May 2020

Volodymyr Syvak, CEO, ZTMC: “The state proves to be a bad shareholder and partner”

Interview with the CEO of Zaporizhzhya Titanium & Magnesium Combine about corporate wars, criminal cases against him and the last General Shareholders Meeting of the company.

We agreed on an interview with Mr. Volodymyr Syvak ahead of the General Shareholders' Meeting of Zaporizhzhya Titanium and Magnesium Combine, which, as we learned, was unexpectedly scheduled by the SPF on April 30. While promising to answer only three questions, CEO of ZTMC talked up a storm. And he told us a lot of interesting things.

Volodymyr Syvak turned out to be easy to talk to: you don't get the feeling that he manages an industrial giant with millions in turnover and a team of many thousands. In his story, the whole chronicle of the industry is embodied in ZTMC, which is the exclusive manufacturer of titanium sponge in Europe.

As a result of the interview, we got the impression that this is not a Soviet style director, but rather the manager of the new generation: competent, modern and, most importantly, confident in what he does. He has no snobbery typical of "red directors".

In terms of pronunciation, Volodymyr Syvak is a pure Dnipropetrovsk resident. In his youth he was engaged in martial arts. Probably that is why he absorbs punches without buckling. Nobody is fighting the state machine today as he does.

We managed to talk exclusively about corporate wars, criminal cases and general shareholders' meetings right on the steps of the State Property Fund. Because of quarantine, there was no morning coffee, but in masks. This is the first such candid interview of the CEO of ZTMC.

- ZTMC LLC General Shareholders' Meeting is to take place today. One of the issues on the agenda is the change of CEO. Are you ready to give up your position?


- As soon as I learned about these plans of the State Property Fund in March, I immediately turned to my lawyers.

For the last six years, I have been under constant pressure from various law enforcement agencies. This time, too, I decided to repel the unfounded actions they were planning.

General Shareholders' Meeting may and will take place, but they are not entitled to consider the change of the CEO.

- Why?


- Because there is a respective court decision that disallows doing it. And I will demand of them to abide by this decision.

- What decision you are talking about?


- This is the decision by Zhovtnevy district court of the Dnipro city. Dnipro is the place of my residence, my hometown.

- How did you win in court? What were your arguments?


- So far only provisional remedies have been taken. This is a court of first instance. They did everything with violations. Absolutely everything! They violated all the could. I appealed to the court because I do not agree with the behavior of state representatives.

- Could you specify your arguments?


- First, they wanted to violate the Labor Code of Ukraine, trying to dismiss me. Secondly, they violated the Government resolution, which regulates the procedure for appointment of new managers of enterprises in which the state has a large shareholding. If I am not mistaken, this is Government Resolution No. 777 of 3 September 2008. It is necessary to hold a competition, there is a clear procedure doing it. It's not that you sit in the office and appoint someone.

In addition, there are many other legal peculiarities. For example, the shareholders' meeting should take place in the premises of ZTMC and not at the SPF. If the shareholders have not agreed on the venue in advance, the shareholders' meeting is to be held at the enterprise.

An important reason why my lawyers filed the lawsuit: I don't trust those mysterious people they want to put in charge of ZTMC. There is a huge risk of incompetent management.

This is an attempt of covert appointment. But an enterprise of this scale is not a toy or a tool for experimentation. Thousands of people work here. And the price of mistakes will be too high. So far I do not understand what the SPF as a representative of the state is going to do with the company.

Tolexis Trading Limited owns 49% and the state - 51%. In my opinion, they must agree on the strategy and development of the enterprise. Tolexis Trading is ready, though the state is trying to play with the cards face-down. So far, all you can see is the desire to seize power. But the way they try to carry out this appointment prove their incompetence.

As a manager who has worked here for many years, I do not see a clear and transparent position of the SPF. I'm sure they don't have a strategy.

Those who they want to put in charge of the enterprise have no idea how to manage such a large industrial enterprise. All this reminds me of appointment through good connections, without the competition, without observing elementary rules.

- Are you ready to seat the shareholders at the negotiating table?


- Of course, I am in favour of such negotiations. I am a hired manager who was appointed by the decision of the both shareholders, i.e. members of the company. I support the development of the enterprise, for harmony in the relationships between the shareholders. Any conflicts between the shareholders will hinder the development of the enterprise and will alert the suppliers and the buyers. I am concerned about the fate of the company, so I appealed to the court to suspend this case. What is happening now, is an attempt to seize power by force.

I do not hold on to power, but it would be a mistake to allow laymen to run the company. I am still protecting my interests at court. In essence, the court decision prohibits the SPF to fire, dismiss from office and restrict my authority as a CEO for the period of this dispute.

- Is this the court of the first instance?


- Yes. The battle is just about to begin.

- Tell us how did you come to this company? In what way do you interact with the state?


- I came to the plant almost ten years ago and could not even imagine the scale of the catastrophe existing at that moment.

- What kind of catastrophe it was?


- First, unresolved issues with huge debts for electricity. Depending on the production volumes, electricity accounts for 35% - 40% of the cost of ZTMC production. Production of titanium sponge is an energy-intensive process. Second, arrears in salary. Third, and most importantly, the company was physically and morally obsolete. All equipment was 70-80% deteriorated.

The company has no development program at all. Could you imagine that the plant is working, but nobody knows where this "steam locomotive" is headed. No strategy, no tactics, no marketing plan, no sales strategy. Absolutely nothing.

The company was manufacturing the products with the totally unaceptable quality. Large volumes of low-grade products were shipped to the buyers. Even to the products that the company itself considered to be of high grade, the contractors laid a lot of claims. The company had a poorly established quality management system. Today, compliance with certain quality standards is a requirement of the aerospace industry. Unfortunately, nobody cared about it. Therefore, many opportunities for the company to sell on the global markets were closed.

- Does aerospace industry certification give access to foreign markets?


- You are absolutely right. Jumping ahead, I will say that we have passed such certification for quality management and were granted Bureau Veritas certification.

- Were those all the issues that you have encountered?


- Not at all. Company lacked the capabilities for deeper processing and conversions of the products, and this restrained the development of the plant. For example, there were no vacuum arc furnaces for smelting titanium ingots. There was no processing capacity to prepare these ingots. The company did not expand the range of its products; the only product it manufactured was titanium sponge. The problem, however, was that at that time the world market for titanium sponge was oversupplied. There was a huge surplus of these products and it was not in great demand. And then it was simply impossible "to sit" on one sponge. The strategy needed to be changed. But there was no strategy, no reconstruction programs, no sources to fund the upgrade.

- They say that at different times the enterprise was run by people who were appointed according to political or bureaucratic quotas.


- I am not inclined to criticize the predecessors. Criticizing the predecessors is the fate of the weak. My way is to roll up the sleeves and get moving forward.

- Sorry, but you did not answer the question.


- If you insist, I will give you the answer. Yes, there were temporary managers appointed according to political quotas, though they did not understand what to do with the plant and how to develop it. Their task was to bring the suitcase to the right floor on Hrushevsky Street. The company was rolling downhill.

- Was it a kind of the cash cow for officials?


- Yes, of course. For years, officials have been fed off this honey pot starting from high-ranking law enforcement officials to ministers, despite the fact that the company had a shortage of working capital. The company lacked funds to run the business. Deficit of funds and failure to repay the debts led to an even greater grows in receivables. It caused interruptions in the supply of raw materials. Did you know that sometimes the salary was not paid for six months.

- Sales of products, was it a long-standing issue?


- This is yet another story. When the global titanium sponge market was on the rise, all products were in demand. When the market stabilizes, you can load about 70% of capacity and compete. But there is one important constraining factor - the cost of our products. Due to the high cost due to the high electricity price, we lose competitive edge.

Today, electricity price in Ukraine has significantly surpassed the cost of electricity in countries where enterprises similar to ZTMC operate. Over the long period of time, we have systematically appealed to the Government to make decisions that would allow the company to operate in a sustainable manner and at the same time to pay for the consumed electricity without delay. Electricity has always been the number one issue for us.

But not only high electricity prices were a problem. Outdated technology was the reason that the company worked inefficiently resulting in a high share of electricity in the cost of finished products. In addition, in terms of processing and conversions, all companies in the world have gone much further ahead of us and reached much better values than we did. For example, the productivity of electrolyser that we use is three times lower than the one at similar enterprises in the world, while electricity consumption is one third higher.

- Could you reduce electricity consumption by reconstruction only?


- There are two ways to go at the same time. The first one is to receive special tariffs. The company needs access to cheap nuclear energy. The state has the opportunity to offer reasonable electricity prices. The other way is to upgrade and reduce costs at all stages of processing and conversion. Both lines of efforts are to be implemented simultaneously, the upgrade only would not save the situation.

- The special tariff for electric power is an issue of state regulation?


- Yes. This is about state regulation. Industrial policy, if you like. If the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine would not intervene, nothing would happen. After all, ZTMC is an export-oriented production and electricity accounts for 40% of production costs. When you export titanium sponge, you are indirectly and invisibly exporting Ukrainian electricity. Theoretically speaking, the sponge is the processing of electricity and raw materials, i.e. titanium concentrate. Only us and the ferroalloy enterprises have such a large share of electricity put into the cost (they have it even higher).

I forgot to tell you an important thing. Theft of finished products was another issue that we faced when we came to the company. Addressing issues related to theft prevention, quality stabilization, replenishment of working capital and others fell into one red line. When we analyzed all those issues, we realized that this was an outcome of inefficient management of the state enterprise.

- The state didn't seem to care about the enterprise?


- Yes. The company was changing hands of various clans, but there was no systematic approach to the development of the plant.

- Could you tell us who were those clans?


- These were proteges of various prime ministers and high-ranking officials. I do not play politics and do not want to comment on political issues, so I will not call the names. We have analyzed the actions of all predecessors and each time we were convinced that the reason was ineffective management on the part of the state.

We were to address those issues quickly enough. All we needed to do was to build a team that could develop strategies to turn the company around. A team that would transform ZTMC into a profitable and modern enterprise that would launch the production with the aerospace grade quality. We needed a team that could launch such processing and conversion processes that would allow to produce output with higher margins,  build commercial chains that would strengthen the company's position in international markets.

- You are probably talking about creating a vertically integrated company?


- Yes. I am talking about the creation of the vertically integrated enterprise in the titanium production industry. We developed a company development program. It entails a large-scale complete reconstruction and upgrade of production, and construction of facility for further processing and conversion, i.e. smelting of titanium ingots. This program, developed jointly with the Titanium Institute and a number of other research institutions, was presented in 2011 at a meeting of the Scientific and Technical Committee at the Ministry of Industrial Policy. It was approved. After that, we drafted a letter to the Ministry of Industrial Policy with a request to form the state policy and secure funding for the reconstruction of the enterprise.

- What was the answer?


- The state does not have the funds for it. Even at that time, high-ranking officials understood that the state could not further develop the enterprise within the framework of the proposed development program. Therefore, the mechanism of reorganization into the "state" enterprise was launched.

- What would that new status imply?


- In legal terms, you can do nothing with the public enterprise. You cannot engage an investor and raise funds. ZTMC became the public enterprise because of the fact that it constantly incurred debts for electricity; the company was granted this status in order to save it from bankruptcy, among other things. The public enterprise is a state monopoly, but it is also a great headache for the state. Public enterprise could not raise funds from commercial banks. It has nothing to offer as a security. It is limited in its capabilities. In order to do something with this enterprise, to find financing, it had to be transformed in the state-owned enterprise first.

When it became state-owned enterprise, at the same time separate laws were adopted and Government regulations were approved to write off part of the debts for electricity  for the total amount of half a billion. A respective law was even adopted to address this issue. But, unfortunately, due to a very powerful energy lobby, there was serious resistance at the level of the Ministry of Energy. In words, everybody supported, though did nothing. Debts were written off only in part. And then the company had to bear the burden of debt. It was clear that fines were accrued on this debt, and the amount kept on growing. The situation was getting worse. With all these issues, assets and liabilities, ZTMC entered the 2012. The company was passed on to the SPF to search for an investor. Those things that the Government did in relation to ZTMC is difficult to call support.

- And then, as I understand it, 49% of the company was sold at the competitive tender?


- Yes, in 2013 the winning bidder became Tolexis Holding Limited that is a member of titanium line of business by Group DF of Dmytro Firtash'. At the same time, the existing documents were formalized. In 2013, ZTMC LLC was established and a new history of the enterprise began. It was reorganized into a limited liability company, and it became the legal successor of the state enterprise and inherited all the debts.

- Did the company receive all assets and liabilities in exchange for future investments?


- Yes. The company owed for the supply of raw materials and electricity; it was in arrears for loans from state and other banks. Loans were taken to replenish the working capital. The state contributed a property complex to the LLC, and the investor contributed its funds to the statutory fund, including funds for reconstruction. It coincided in time with political and geopolitical changes that took place in Ukraine in 2014 and led to tensions in relations with Russia. The war broke out.

At that time, an investment program for corporate development of the enterprise was approved. According to it, at the first stage we planned to increase the production of titanium slag, which was then in high demand. We have started to implement this program. Though the hostilities in the east of the country in 2014 forced us to think seriously about a radical overhaul of the investment program.

- Why? What was the reason?


 Because most of the technological equipment that we planned to purchase had to be ordered in the Russian Federation. This is quite an expensive equipment with the long production time. Part of the equipment was planned to be ordered at the enterprises of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and they turned our to be at the center of hostilites.

- Do you want to say that after the revolution there were preconditions for revision of the investment program and failure to fulfill it?


- We have seen enormous risks. These were the risks that, having started the implementation of this program, in the future we would get a number of problems with supplies, logistics and sales. There were geopolitical and sanctions risks. Therefore, we offered the SPF who was the owner of 51% to adjust the investment program.

- What changes have you proposed?


- Initially, the investment program consisted of two parts. The first change was about the capital expenditures and an increase in titanium slag production to 150,000 tons per year. The second one was about the contributions and increase in production of titanium sponge and magnesium to 20,000 tons per year. All this was supposed to be done at new facilities. We offered and presented the SPF with a rationale for approving the new plan at the general shareholders' meeting. We offered to switch the two stages, i.e. to make changes to the program and started first with the reconstruction and upgrade of the production of titanium sponge and magnesium metal.

Last fall we forwarded the documents to the SPF who reviewed them and asked us to prepare the expert opinion. The expert opinion was prepared and presented. It was drafted by some respectful organizations.

We offered the SPF to hold the General Shareholders' meeting and to put on the agenda the issue of changes to the investment plan. Unfortunately, this program was not approved. Several top SPF officials were replaced, though this issue was not reviewed during any of the meetings. SPF representatives refused to vote on this issue. Some of them did not want to take responsibility, while others deliberately did not vote. For political reasons, probably. If you remember, under Arseniy Yatsenyuk's government, political harassment of Group DF enterprises and political pressure on the part of the Popular Front officials were a common practice. Read the official Group DF statements of that period.

Due to the fact that the SPF did not want to agree on a new plan, there was a problem. Reconstruction of the enterprises was carried out, but not as needed. Reconstruction required funding. It was impractical to carry it out under the existing program, because at that time the titanium slag market began to sag. Our concerns came through. After a while, the price of titanium slag fell catastrophically and the investment program, if implemented, would simply become unprofitable. That would be money left on the table. Through the lens of economics, it has become unprofitable for ZTMC to invest in the expansion  of titanium slag production.

- Has SOE ZTMC already been liquidated?


- Yes, in 2015. ZTMC LLC with all debts of the predecessors remained. During the reorganization period, we had to address the issue of paying off the debts of this SOE. In order to complete the reorganization of the enterprise using legitimate methods, ZTMC LLC repaid the debts that had previously been accumulated by the SOE.

In 2016, when the reorganization phase was completed, NABU opened a criminal case against me. I was accused of illegally repaying the debts of ZTMC. We did that because creditors could impose additional penalties, up to the bankruptcy proceedings. Various proceedings related to the SOE did not allow us to complete the reorganization, so we spent resources to repay the SOE's old debts.

- How did the NABU criminal case end in 2016?


- There is a decision of the court of the first instance where I was found not guilty. The case is currently being considered by the High Anti-Corruption Court of Appeal.

- What else did you do at the enterprise?


- The company underwent reconstruction, some progress was made in certification, standardization and in the field of quality assurance.

The most important thing that might get you interested in the first place is that we were paying out dividends in full. Thus, since the moment that LLC was established, we have paid UAH 135.6 million in dividends to the state budget. We also paid UAH 693.09 million in taxes.

- Did you deliver on all the commitments?


- We could not deliver on all our commitments in full because this money is on the accounts of the enterprise. UAH 175 million earmarked for development is currently in the company's accounts, and these are the appropriations for reconstruction. The rest of the funds received from the investor were added to the current assets. This money was paid in to the charter capital. The money paid in to the charter capital becomes working capital of the enterprise.

Prototypes of the new equipment for the production of spongy titanium were also developed and tested. Today they are in experimental operations.

During this period, we came to a clear understanding of all the necessary design solutions. I am talking about solutions that would allow for further reconstruction of the enterprise and would increase the production capacity of spongy titanium and magnesium reducing agent.

- Are there any plans for the production of titanium tetrachloride? You also market this product.


- Regarding titanium tetrachloride, we also have a clear understanding of what to do. We have already built the first high-performance chlorinator. In terms of power, it is different from everything  that was before. In order to move forward, you need solutions that would adjust the enterprise development program. We have two shareholders who  should attend the General Shareholders' Meeting and vote. But the Fund is not up to it now.

- According to the media electricity prices are still rising due to monopolies.


- The electricity cost has been on the rise since 2014. These things are unacceptable and difficult to understand. Despite the fact that Ukraine has nuclear energy, coal capacity, and hydropower, the price of electricity has doubled. This has already led to the fact that the cost of our products has increased significantly: eventually, from a profitable enterprise before 2018, we turned into a loss-making one. As a result, during this period of time we began to accumulate debt for electricity. This is a new debt.

- How are you going to address the problem of these debts?


- In 2018, we proposed ways to solve the issue of energy supply company. We appealed for support to the Government, the Fund and offered to restructure the debt by signing settlement agreement. This is not an attempt to write off debts, rather the conversion of debt on normal and fair terms. We offered the terms based on our financial status. Our offer was rejected.

In March 2018, the amount of electricity supplied to the company was limited to the level of environmental reservation. Consequently, the enterprise decreased production and incurred even greater losses. As a result, the plant closed the year of 2018 with losses of UAH 740 million. Since 2019, we have been negotiating these debts. We could have solved this issue and raise the production volumes, reach the break-even level and pay off part of the debt.

- Which side should take the decision?


- SPF and suppliers of energy. SPF manages Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo. We appealed for support to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, to the President, even to the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, because we saw no other mechanism and way out to resolve this issue. Settlement agreement would allow us to increase production, sales and revenues. We could work in a sustainable manner, cover our needs and allocate funds to pay off debts. All our suggestions were listened to, but nothing was done.

- They say that in 2019 Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo even agreed to debt conversion and restructuring.  Is that true?


- Yes. In July 2019, we even reached agreement in principle with oblenergos on debt restructuring. It was an agreement on a fair debt conversion. In July 2019, the draft of this settlement agreement was offered as one of the items on the agenda of ZTMC LLC General Shareholders' Agreement. Back then there were many issues on the agenda: on amendments to the investment program, debt conversion, settlement agreement and about 20 other issues stockpiled from 2014 to 2016 and required swift resolution by the general shareholders' meeting. But none of them was resolved, as the SPF representatives did not come to the meeting. There was no one to vote. Elections were held in the country, everyone was busy with politics. Public officials again, as it turned out, were not up to us. The state has once again confirmed that it was a bad partner.

In September, there were personnel changes in the SPF and we appealed to the new leadership to listen to our old arguments. We held a series of meetings with Serhii Ignatovsky, Deputy Head, SPF. At his request, we provided all the necessary materials that confirm that we were right. We hoped for a positive decision and support. Prime Minister Honcharuk came to Zaporizhzhya and had a meeting with businesses. We had a normal dialogue with the Prime Minister.

We have publicly asked for assistance. Allegedly, we were heard. According to the Prime Minister, relevant orders were issued. We mailed a written request to the SPF and informed them about it. We were supported by the Zaporizhzhya Regional State Administration, they support us in most cases, because they, like no one else, are interested to maintain enterprises operations. Unfortunately, there was no further progress to this day.

- Is it true that 51% of ZTMC the Government transferred to OGHK for a short period of time?


- Yes, it happened. It's not a secret. Since 2014 to 2016. Then SPF took the stock of shares back. In January-February 2020, we did not receive any new information from the SPF.

In March, we heard that the SPF had issued a new resolution. At the courtesy of SPF, Mr. Lubennikov was appointed acting director of ZTMC. Legally, there was no reason for issuing such a document. Now, there is a new Prime Minister. We expect professionalism from this team.

- What were the consequences for business of this illegal Government order to appoint an acting director?


- There were no legal consequences, because this is an illegal order written "on the knee". But this resolution affects business.

- In what way?


- Our foreign clients, partners, suppliers started addressing us with the same question: what is going on? We issued an official statement. Everyone calmed down. Foreigners love quiet and normal relationships. They do not like extremes and unpredictability in business.

There were no clear statements from SPF and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine about the developments. They would not answer the phone calls. After a while, we realized what the SPF had in mind: they wanted to hold general shareholders' meeting on 30 April with the view to change the company CEO. Without competitions, without observing the procedure. There were no other issues on the agenda. It seems that the only person who hinders the development of the plant is the CEO. They didn't even talk to us.

Of course, our security service analyzed the person who was suggested as the new CEO. We gathered information and came to the conclusion that the change of the management could lead to a complete shutdown of the enterprise after some time. It is very likely that the plant would be cut for scrap metal after it is stopped. Just like it was with Zaporizhzhya aluminum plant. The person they want to put in charge of the company has no experience in managing industrial and environmentally hazardous enterprises of this kind. We have no understanding at the moment that he has a team that could manage the company.

They do not have the funds to finance ZTMC, working capital and have no resources to address the issues that have stockpiled.

I understand how it all could end, I have drawn some conclusions and decided to resist it in order to preserve ZTMC.

- Do you think the State Property Fund can put up 51% of ZTMC for privatization?


- According to the law, they can't do it until the end of the year. The privatization program for this year has already been approved. Privatization plans are approved in October-November of the year preceding the year in which they want to privatize the company. For 2020, the plant is not listed as a privatization object,  to begin with. Second, they are still required by the law to offer to buy the stock of shares to the second shareholder, in the first place.

- And who can be the buyer of these 51%. They say, for instance, Glencore?


- Most likely, there are no buyers. There is, of course, an understanding that Glencore could look into it. OGHK management has already been changed, and there seems to be interest on the part of Glencore. But I do not understand why would such serious players enter this niche. Glencore is a reputable trader but they are not strategic investor at all. OGHK has 3 years to exist. They are running out of resources. Whereas ZTMC would survive another 2-3 months if none would invest in it.

Today we work at the expense of the funds we receive from the sale of products. But we are unprofitable, money is gradually being washed out of circulation.

- Do you think that those who want to enter the company just need access to the company's money - those that is in the accounts?


- I can agree with you. Most probably, there is just an interest in taking away the money from the accounts. UAH 175 million. Once the company is stopped it would be cut into scrap metal. Believe me, there is something to sell, a lot of non-ferous metal.

- Did you try to forge relationships with the Prime Minister?


- We plan to do it. However, managing 51% of ZTMC shares is the responsibility of SPF.

- Did the state help you as a CEO? Did the state participate at least once in the life of the plant?


- As a CEO, I do not feel that the state need ZTMC at all. No official helps to address the company's problems. As it is the case in other countries. So far only conversations. You have to understand that ZTMC is the only plant of its kind in Europe. Ukraine could have a real advantage over other producers, for example, from Russia, Kazakhstan, Japan. But look what is happening? When a company needs to decide where to go - left or right, the state does not come to the meeting. It withdraws from making important decisions.

Now, there is a new phase. Instead of giving us a helping hand, they decided to fire the director.

- Admit it, are you afraid of being fired?


- Not at all. Just do everything according to the law. You have to understand, I was forced to go to court not because I was holding on to office. I represent 3,500 employees. We have been working together since my first day in the company.

And now they want to put in charge an inexperienced person. A pig in a poke. Although it is easy to find information about how these people once successfully cut ZALK to pieces. Literally. There is no aluminum plant in Zaporizhzhya any more. Now they are cutting off the fencing.

If you also want to also cut ZTMC, you are welcome. But I will fight for the people to the last. Second, I want counter-question you on this matter: have you heard anything about the open competition for this position?

- As far as I know, there is no competition announced yet.


- Right, there is no competition. I could also take part in it. As a person who is not indifferent to the fate of the company, who is aware of the situation and the matter the most. The interests of the people and the plant are a priority for me. This motivates me. I went to court and won the case. We received the precautionary measure. We will see later how events would develop. We do not want to let the laymen run the company.

- You have to understand that they will trump up numerous criminal cases against you.  How many of them do you have already?


- I understand it perfectly well. I already lost the count as there are more than ten criminal cases against me. It's like an "assembly line". All these cases are framed-up. Everybody understands it. This is the common form of pressure and extortion. These are criminal cases from the police, the city prosecutor's office, and the SBU. Now the most high-profile case is from NABU. SBU launched the case proceedings of treason. These are just the cases that are on everybody's lips. They accuse me of anything! Even of ecological genocide.

That's how the state helps us to run the company! At the moment I am tried by NABU for paying off debts. SBU is trying me for not paying the debts. These are mutually exclusive and absurd. This is such an endless and repressive rink. The purpose is to knock you off your feet. Create a problem and then help solve it. It turns out that when the CEO needs to deal with the plant, he is forced to go for questionings. I have already been interrogated more than 150 times. Think about it! 150 times! Soon I could write a whole book about it.

I feel this pressure every day. The attempt to change the CEO is nothing in comparison with what could happen. This punitive rink have been pressing on me every day. For three years It also presses the company. It puts pressure on the whole investment climate in the country. You see, if there is no respect for the domestic investor, or there is no honest partnership, foreign investors would never risk investing in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, so far the state manifest itself as a bad partner. Even worse than bad one. Any Ukrainian asset, an asset in which the state has a share, becomes in the understanding of investors a "toxic" asset.

An interview was recorded by Dmytro Filipenko