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Reports: Former debtor files US lawsuit against Sberbank

Delaware-registered company PPF Management LLC filed a $750 million lawsuit against PAO Sberbank of Russia, its CEO Herman Gref and investment arm Sberbank Capital over an alleged takeover of crushed granite producer Pavlovskgranit, Vedomosti and Prime reported Jan. 25.

The lawsuit was filed in November 2016 with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of Sergei Poimanov and Irina Podgornaya, who earlier held a controlling stake in Pavlovskgranit, Vedomosti noted.

In addition to Sberbank and its CEO, the defendants also include the company NEO Center and its Vice President Oleg Gref, as well as Yuri Zhukov, the co-owner of Pavlovskgranit's competitor, National Non-Metallic Co. Prime noted that PAO Promsvyazbank is also mentioned among defendants, whose list includes over 20 companies and individuals.

PPF Management asked for compensation amounting to $500 million for material damages and $250 million for moral damages, claiming the defendants wanted to destroy the company as a market competitor and take over its assets.

The dispute goes back to 2008, when Poimanov took a 5.1 billion Russian ruble loan from Sberbank to buy out a stake from his partner. The company was not able to proceed with loan repayments in 2009, and Sberbank offered a refinancing deal in exchange for a sale of a controlling stake in the firm to Sberbank Capital. After Poimanov refused, Sberbank demanded the repayment of the remaining 4.5 billion ruble loan.

Later, the lender transferred all claims on the unpaid loan to Sberbank Capital, which sold them to buyers affiliated with National Non-Metallic Co. The buyers reportedly received a preferential loan from Sberbank to finance the purchase.

The first hearing in the case was scheduled by the New York court for April 20.

As of Jan. 25, US$1 was equivalent to 59.09 Russian rubles.