Foreign company appeals for arrest of Skonto property

  • 2004-11-17
  • Baltic News Service
RIGA - An Austrian creditor has petitioned a Latvian court to arrest assets of the Skonto holding company in an effort to return an old receivable worth some 700,000 euros.
Austria's OBI Bau und Heimwerkermarkte Systemzentrale GmbH, the supplier of goods to the international construction materials chain OBI, wants to recover nearly half a million lats in debt from Skonto for goods that were supplied to an OBI store in Latvia for several years, the court reported.

The Austrian company has asked the Riga City Court to acknowledge and transfer for execution the respective ruling of an Austrian international court of arbitration, and to ensure the implementation of the ruling by imposing an arrest on Skonto's property.

The ruling of the court of arbitration is related to the project of the OBI hardware store in Riga, when its store was opened on terms of franchise contract. The store was opened in September 2001, but its developer, Centrs 21, went insolvent late in 2002.

The international court of arbitration found that Skonto should meet the liabilities of Centrs 21 since the former had assumed responsibility for these liabilities. What's more, Skonto is related to Centrs 21 by the fact that a significant share in both companies is owned by the well-known Latvian businessman Guntis Indriksons.

Skonto said the court of arbitration's ruling was groundless and that they would ask the Latvian court not to acknowledge it, company spokeswoman Ilva Erta said.

After the bankruptcy of Centrs 21, development of the store's premises has been continued by C-21, a firm which is partly related to the owners of Centrs 21. The store's building at present is owned by Hanza Lizings, as the original owner of the building, OBI, which is also related to Indriksons, had been unable to repay the debt to Hanza Lizings, in addition to having been declared insolvent.

Skonto is a multisector holding comprising transport, construction, trade, hotel and other businesses.