By George Psyllides
Russian minority shareholders in the Bank of Cyprus are unhappy with the terms of a €1.0 billion capital increase, suggesting that their rights have been violated and charging that the board was exclusively serving the interests of western investors.
They have set up a group for the protection of their rights, which will provide all necessary assistance to both Russian and Ukrainian shareholders of the bank in obtaining information about the capital increase, as well as in developing a common stance before the upcoming general meeting where the capital increase is to be approved.
The shareholders, who were given shares after their deposits were seized to recapitalise the lender, say their rights have been infringed by being prevented from taking part in the process.
The shareholders believe that the management’s actions are aimed at forcing the Russian minority shareholders out of the bank’s shareholding structure by diluting their stake and giving priority purchase rights not to them – “the depositors affected by the subprime lending policy of this Cypriot organisation – but qualified investors.”
The first phase of the process involves a private placement to “certain institutional investors in the European Union who are “qualified investors” and similarly qualified institutional investors in other jurisdictions.”
Therefore, Russian minority shareholders will not be allowed to take part in the first phase, and will only be allowed to take part in the second phase and will be entitled to “to purchase up to 20 per cent in aggregate of the total number of shares offered to qualified investors in the first phase and at the same price as in phase one.”
Shares in the clawback “will be allocated among participating shareholders pro rata based on their shareholdings at the time of allocation, excluding any shares acquired in phase one.”
“The deliberate restriction of the rights of shareholders to participate in the Bank of Cyprus capital increase seems to be especially cynical in the light of attempts to legitimize it by introducing the ‘for qualified investors only’ requirements,” said head of the group Yevgeniy Kogan.
“Unfortunately, the Board of Directors of the Bank seems to have forgotten that the minority shareholders of Bank of Cyprus, for the most part, are not professional investors and have received their shares as a result of the forced expropriation of their investments in 2013.”
Cyprus was forced to shut down one bank and seize deposits in BoC as part of the terms of a €10 billion bailout.