AZMOL is locally-known trademark of budget oils and lubricants made at the Berdyansk plant in Ukraine. When AZMOL suddenly became AZMOL BP many heads were turned. What has British Petroleum has in common in scandalous old Soviet plant with ‘better than nothing’ products and the history of quite volatile privatizations? Do the true owners of AZMOL managed to really sign an agreement with the world leader British Petroleum company?
That’s not true. It seems that the management of AZMOL pushes AZMOL BP name in attempt to be associated with British Petroleum. In fact the new name is AZMOL British Petrochemicals. What’s British in the AZMOL then? It turns out that it is Terry Dicken, the new owner. However there are all reasons to suggest that the new owner is only a nominal one. According to official tax data Terry Dicken’s Global Lubricants Ltd. is in fact a small enterprise with one pound in the register and £12,000 in a annual turnover. The whole scheme is invented by local oligarch Alexander Ponomarev to boost credibility of the brand and to monopolize the market of cheap motor oil and lubricants in Ukraine.
Alexander Ponomarev creates AZMOL BP as a fake competitor
“The largest manufacturer of motor oils and lubricants in Ukraine, PJSC “Azmol” (Berdyansk, Zaporozhye region, now “AZMOL British Petrochemicals”) received an investment from a well-known oil producer from the UK, Global Lubricants Ltd. The founder of the British company, Terry Dicken, will be engaged in the modernization of the Ukrainian enterprise and will ensure the development of a new line of motor oils” – a press release with such proud content was posted on June 1 on the website of the Interfax-Ukraine news Agency.
It also states that “the first step of the British investor will be the modernization of production, which will fully unlock the potential of the legendary enterprise, breathing new life into it. According to the results of the modernization of “AZMOL BP ” (this abbreviation, reminiscent of British Petroleum, is intensively used by the Ukrainian company in a seemingly confusing way), it plans to increase the number of jobs three times.” At the same time, the release quotes the aforementioned Terry Dicken, presented as a living legend of the British motor oil market, whose company Global Lubricants allegedly supplies lubricants of its own production around the world.
“We bring to AZMOL BP [BP again! – edit.] our best practices and technologies, as well as 40 years of experience in the production and sale of oils, not only in Britain, but also around the world. I believe that the products of the new line, which will be produced here at AZMOL BP [BP again! – edit.], will become popular both in the Ukrainian market and abroad, ” – said Terry Dicken.
In general, at first glance, everything looks incredibly cool, if you do not take into account, of course, that the frequency of mentioning the abbreviation BP in the name of the Berdyansk enterprise has every chance to end in a lawsuit with British Petroleum, to which Azmol has nothing to do. But in fact, this release can be considered an awkward attempt to “humanize” the image of the lubricant company, the history of the last years of which is completely covered with dark spots.
During the scandalous liquidation procedure of PJSC “Azmol”, which was 100 percent owned by the state, its property complex for the production of oils and lubricants with an area of more than 115 thousand square meters was sold on the stock exchange in August 2016 for a symbolic amount of UAH 101.5 million to the company “Ultra Oil” from Dnipro city.
The events that followed shed light on the specifics of the business of one of the largest “greasing barons” in Ukraine – the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, a member of the group “Volya Naroda [Will of the People – edit.]” Alexander Ponomarev. Its main “family” asset is considered to be the Agrinol group from Berdyansk, which calls itself “one of the first independent manufacturers of lubricants and metal containers in Ukraine”.
Ponomarev group has been trying for more than 10 years to gain control of “Azmol” – the largest plant in Ukraine for the production of oils and lubricants with a capacity of 300 thousand tons per year. And it was decided to do this not by buying out the state’s controlling stake in the idle enterprise, which was previously estimated at almost $ 50 million, but by buying up its debts at a significant discount and then buying out the plant’s assets at auction. So it is not surprising that the main creditor of “Azmol” – the mentioned company “Ultra Oil” – became the buyer of the property, directing most of the money spent to itself.
AZMOL BP owner is 1-pound worth British company
At the same time, the connection between Ultra Oil and Agrinol was obvious, because they are related by the presence of one co-founder, the Zaporozhye asset management company Slavutich-invest. And the” cherry on the cake “is the presence of Alexandra Sirosh-Kasumova, Ponomarev’s former assistant, in the founders of Ultra-Oil LLC.
On the basis of the asset inherited by Ultra Oil, a new legal entity was created, to which the plant was transferred to management – a company with the loud name “Azmol British Petrochemicals”, transparently hinting at the presence of a profile investor from Great Britain. Legally, this is so – a 30 percent share in the company went to the aforementioned British citizen Terence (Terry) Diken. Which has turned out to be the real owner of a company with a loud name Global Lubricants Limited. Another thing is that the scale of this business, to put it mildly, is not at all impressive – the authorized capital of Global Lubricants Limited is only 1 (one) pound, and the value of net current assets at the end of the last financial year was less than 12 thousand pounds. Because of this, in the UK commercial register, Global Lubricants Limited refers to small companies.
So it is possible that the “investment from a well-known oil producer”, which Azmol so loudly announced, was limited to the amount of 60 thousand hryvnia [less than £2,500 – editor.] – the nominal contribution of Terry Dicken to the authorized capital of the Ukrainian joint venture.
The company decided not to mention the owner of the controlling share (70%) in the capital of Azmol British Petrochemicals LLC in its release, which may also have a simple explanation. This share is registered to another foreigner – an Estonian citizen Pavel Putilov. He manages the Luboil company registered in Tallinn, which, by pure coincidence, is the Estonian dealer of the mentioned “Agrinol”. At the same time, the authorized representative of Putilov at the establishment of “Azmol British Petrochemicals” was a resident of the Zaporozhye region Elena Plyushchy, who worked as a lawyer for “Agrinola”.
Why did Ponomarev’s gang need such a complicated scheme? The answer is simple: on the one hand, the presence of British and Estonian citizens in the formal founders of the successor company Azmol BP, and even with “new technologies and intellectual property”, can be used to increase the status of the plant’s products, which did not belong to high-class products in the eyes of most consumers. And secondly, the “non-involvement” in “Agrinol” and its founders allows LLC “Azmol British Petrochemicals” to play games in tenders with Ponomaerev structures on the rights of “an unrelated competitor”.