Skele family behind secret dairy deal

  • 2011-09-21
  • From wire reports

RIGA - Another case of Russian money leaving its home country in an attempt to escape a corrupt business environment for clearer skies has surfaced as the Latvian dairy company Valmieras Piens has reportedly been sold to a Russian investor, writes In an attempt to keep the transaction secret, the company’s staff were ordered not to tell news of the sale to anyone, and have been promised large severance pay in case they are dismissed due to any restructuring.

In another Latvian-style deal, shrouded in mystery, the new owner is thought to be Alexander Bezkhmelnitski, who this past March bought shares in the dairy company Rigas Piena Kombinats, and has been active in the dairy business in Russia, the C.I.S. countries and other international markets.
The purchase price has not been announced.

Strangely, Valmieras Piens CEO Rolands Gulbis said that he had “no information about the deal.”
“I am not a shareholder, therefore I will not comment. I once said that I would continue to work at the company until it was sold. Since I am still here, there have been no changes,” he said.
Juris Petersons, a representative of Valmieras Piens shareholders, said that on Sept. 5 several investors claimed they were interested in the dairy concern.

“Talks on investments, investment purchases and sale are taking place on a regular basis, and several prospective investors are very interested in Valmieras Piens at the moment,” said Petersons.
Valmieras Piens produces a full spectrum of dairy products: milk, curds, cheese, butter, sour cream, dehydrated dairy products and others.

In 2010, the company’s turnover was 29.6 million lats (42.2 million euros) - a 9 percent increase on 2010. Valmieras Piens posted 885,000 lats in losses last year, compared to a loss of 108,167 lats in 2001.
The company Inpo 7 owns the controlling interest in Valmieras Piens; Inpo 7 belongs to Privato Aktivu Parvalde, which in turn belongs to Sabiedriba Privatajiem Ieguldijumiem (SPI).

SPI, a company managing investments into various projects, is owned by ex-Prime Minister Andris Skele’s spouse Kristiana Libane-Skele (30 percent), Skele’s daughters Madara Skele (25 percent) and Anete Skele-Petersone (25 percent), Skele’s business partner Edgars Skenderis (10 percent) and another business partner, Iveta Smilga-Krongorne (10 percent).