Georgian Dream’s Leader Sold His Russian Business
20 September, 2012
Georgian Dream’s Leader Sold His Russian Business

Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian political tycoon who founded the major political coalition Georgian Dream, successfully sold his last asset in Russia - agriculture industrial corporation Stoilenskaya Niva for USD 180 million. Some experts believe the smooth pricing and hand-over process of Ivanishvili’s assets in Russia bespeak of the sold assets good value and management skills of Georgian billionaire who ranked number 25 in the list of  the richest people of Russia by USD 5. 5 billion in assets in 2011. Some

presume the successful release of Ivanishvili’s Russian business against the backdrop of totalitarian Russian political regime and sagging financial markets bespeaks of latent pressure of the west on Russia not to hamper the development of democratic values in Georgia. 

Whether or not Ivanishvili is pro-Russian or pro-western politician has been a subject of political disputes ever since the silent, charitable billionaire eluding the public eye as much as possible, became outspoken within almost overnight, and stepped in Georgian politics as a leader of opposition Georgian Dream political coalition founded past fall. The fact that he made his fortune in Russia laid ground to speculations that he was a man of the Kremlin imbedded in Georgia. It is a common truth that big and successful businesses are bound with the state benediction even in the developed countries let alone countries in transition economies.

Vladimir Sokor, the US political scientist and analyst of the Jamestown Fund, having visiting Georgia in May of 2012 in scopes of GUAM [Organization for Democracy and Economic Development of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and   Moldova] summit, accentuated that nobody can have business in Russia without the state control.

Ivanishvili swore he was for the western meritocracy and to cut out rumors he decided to get rid of all his Russian assets.  His last asset Stoylenskaya Niva was sold to American investment fund Arco International Group for USD 180 million. Prior to this his bank Rosiisky Kredit was sold for USD 352 million, the pharmaceutical company landed in hands of Sergey Matvienko, son of the chairman of the federation council of Russian Duma’s upper chamber, for USD 60 million; The most valuable assets Sadovie Kvartali, an elite real estate company of Ivanishvili shifted hands for USD 1 billion to imputed buddies of Vladimer Putin, President of Russia.    All in all Ivanishvili managed to raise USD 1.592 billion through his Russian assets that he assessed quite a good price taking into account the financial market crisis and haste.

Nodar Chichinadze, chairman of the Association of Young Businessmen and Financiers, thinks that the smooth change of hands of Ivanishvili’s business in Russia for good price bespeaks of the sold assets value and skillful financiers working for Ivanishvili.

“The successful business always has a value no matter whether it operates in Russia or in Europe. I think this successful change-hand of Ivanishvili’s business marks only that these businesses were successful,” he said.

However successful sale of Ivanishvili’s Russian assets lays grounds to speculations just like successful operation of the said businesses did before they were sold out. Analysts read political meaning between lines. Some read light connection, some quite far-going wrestling of powers.

“Most part of the business was handed to the encirclement of Putin. Political conjuncture had its say for sure but not blatantly I think,” Irakli Lekvinadze, an economic analyst, elaborated. “Most probably the price was good because the businesses were successful.”

One political and economic analyst [who asked not to disclose his name] thinks the successful pricing and sale of Georgian political tycoon’s assets in totalitarian Russia on the threshold of parliamentarian elections in Georgia indicates on a western pressure on the Kremlin to curb it to hamper development of democratic process in Georgia.

According to the source, Ivanishvili is the key political oppositionist figure who has a potential to really compete with the ruling National Movements’ party, divide its power and replace peacefully when its office-term expires so as to adopt the check-and-balance policy in Georgia once and for all similarly to the west.

“But emergence of the truly democratic state within the post-Soviet space makes the totalitarian Russia crazy because a sample of real democracy near their borders where first ever in Georgian independence the power may change peacefully will instigate Russian people to revolt against its undemocratic power. Democracy and stability in Georgia never fits to Russian policy that apparently supports the incumbent President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. Otherwise how can we explain that out of sudden Putin came out with this strange revelation that the August war with Georgia was planned long ago in 2006? This statement bewildered the west and it realized that Russia is able to repeat the scenario of 2008 especially after Russia deployed military drills Kavkasia 2012 just before election in Georgia and Saakashvili staged that show in Pankisi gorge detaining and killing a squad of alleged insurgents from Dagestan trespassing Georgian-Russian border.  To prevent further aggravation the west increased pressure on Russia to act more civilized and it really withdrew its Kavkasia drills explaining the move “not to embarrass Georgia before elections. Most probably Ivanishvili’s successful business transactions in Russia are one of the results of this pressure on Russia to insure Ivanishvili be safe and free and does contribution to the democratic way of power change in Georgia,” the source said.

The launch of a formal investigation by European Commission against the Kremlin-owned gas company Gazprom under the anti-trust suspects seems to be one more key the west plans to press to tame the shrew. The commission’s antitrust authorities are focusing specifically on whether Gazprom used its dominant position in the EU gas market to thwart competitors and push up prices in Central and Eastern Europe. If the allegation proves true, Gazprom will face serious penalties.

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