Blog: Petah MarianA return to normalcy for Russian retailer Lenta?

Petah Marian | 21 September 2010

Hostilities among the board of Russian retailer Lenta remain ongoing, although some shareholders believe the reinstatement of Jan Dunning as director general will mean the company's attention will return to building the chain, rather than on the infighting that has plagued the business for the past five months.

Shareholders have been at odds for months over who should be Lenta's CEO, with 40% shareholder Svoboda wanting Sergei Yushenko to lead the company, while the EBRD and Luna investment fund, which hold 11% and 30.8% respectively, have sought to keep Jan Dunning in the role.

Tensions came to a head last week when the retailer's offices were stormed by Dunning's representatives after he was prevented from entering the office by security forces hired by Svoboda, the shareholder that ousted from his position in May.

Chairman of the board Dimitry Kostygin told just-food that the documents used to register Dunning as the general director must have been forged and that he and Svoboda, which holds a 40% stake in the company, will continue to pursue this through the courts. Additionally, he claims that Dunning is working in the country without a work permit and that the police did not act appropriately in the way they arrested people after the brawl.

Representatives of the EBRD and Luna fund declined to comment on the moves. However sources close to the two expressed satisfaction that the "right man was in the job".

One source close to the situation added that there has now been a court ruling that no further changes to the director general position can be made, so "they can get on with running the business".

Additionally, a Lenta spokesperson told just food that former director general Sergei Yuschenko is no longer with the company.

With a board meeting called for 30 September, industry watchers wait and hope that some semblance of stability has returned to the retailer.


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