back to top

    The Russian oligarch sold Vivus. He didn’t want to, but he got scared about freezing assets in Poland

    The managers bought the business from a group affiliated with a Russian oligarch who was unwilling to sell. “Otherwise, the government will freeze his assets,” “Puls Biznesu,” writes.

    As it says, “it was real ‘fire sale’.” A month ago, no one in the 4Finance Group, which includes Vivus Finance, one of Poland’s largest lenders, had considered such an option. In the Polish context, the annual report published on 2 March only highlights the regulatory challenges associated with the next version of the Anti-Loan Sharking Law on which the Sejm is currently working.


    It was pointed out that, in connection with the war in Ukraine, the group informs investors that it has no business in the country, as in Russia, and that it has donated money to help the Ukrainians.


    “And since yesterday, 4Finance is no longer active in Poland, because Vivus Finance – in connection with Ukraine or better Russia – got rid of it as a matter of urgency,” the PB writes.


    According to the daily, a purchase agreement for Vivusa Finance was signed on Tuesday afternoon in Riga, where the group’s headquarters are located.


    “The transaction was carried out through a so-called management buy-out,” it says. It was added that the only buyer, for the time being, was Ewa Wernerowicz, who has been managing Vivus since 2016. “The other managers – who are supposed to be 5-6 people – carry out business duties and must first apply to the regulatory authority for the appropriate permits,” the paper writes.


    “PB” pointed out that Vivus had long been singled out in Poland for his connections with the Russian oligarch Oleg Boyko, mainly by right-wing media.


    “However, the issue of the company’s Russian roots has never been seriously discussed in Poland. It was not unimportant that Vivus contributed significantly to the emergence of a civilized loan market,” it said.


    It is noted that Vivus’ Russian connotations were veiled – “Oleg Boyko successfully hid in a chain of companies that led to Poland. He was not like Roman Abramovich in the media. There is little information about it, and the few that are available are hard to verify.” According to the newspaper, his fortune was created in the 1990s by close ties to the “family”, the party of Boris Yeltsin.


    “He also found himself under Vladimir Putin, where he had a close acquaintance with Igor Shuvalov, the first deputy prime minister in the cabinet of Dmitry Medvedev and since 2018 president of the state-owned VEB Bank,” it writes.


    The newspaper recalls that the assets of Oleg Boyko are valued by “Forbes” at more than 3 billion dollars. The composition of the empire, as added, is the financial group Finstar, to which belongs among others Fashion TV and indirectly also 4Finance, which controls two banks – in Romania and Bulgaria, has a big business in Spain, in Denmark just rolling the business and trying to start in Greece.


    It should be noted that the Polish company was one of the most important assets of the group. “Without the war in Ukraine, Vivus would still be 4Finance,” the paper stresses. It adds: “The Russians felt safe with us.”


    “A strong signal to the contrary came on February 28 when the ZPP expelled Vivus from its ranks,” it added. It was recalled that intensive work had begun in the Sejm on a sanction law that provided for the possibility of freezing Russian assets in Poland.


    The “polonisation” of Vivus is the second such operation in the banking sector, the paper recalls. He adds that in March 2019, the Kruk company bought Wonga’s company from the British.

    More in section