Alexandros Alexandrou and GLUSCO: how the investor from the EU, Alexandros Alexandrou protects the ownership rights of the GLUSCO gas stations
|Alexandros Alexandrou is an independent investor, entrepreneur, expert in financial and real estate markets.|
The network of gas stations Glusco again attracts the attention of the public. Previously, this asset was associated with the pro-Russian politician Victor Medvedchuk. Later, the gas station network was transferred to the management of the Naftogaz company. However, as it turned out, European investor Alexandros Alexandrou bought the business even before that. He made an important decision to purchase Ukrainian assets in March 2022, when the Kyiv region had just been liberated from the invaders. We tried to find out why he risked investing exactly at that time and how he tries to protect his property rights now.
How the Glusco network developed
By the time Cypriot businessman Alexandros Alexandrou drew attention to the network, the Glusco company had already provoked many public scandals. It was initially registered in 2016. Then the Russian TNC and its assets left the Ukrainian market, and the oil depot near the Lysychansk Oil Refinery was acquired by a new owner. The basis of the Glusco gas station chain was the former Vostok gas stations, which operated under the following brands:
1. "Golden Gepard"
The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine granted permission for the purchase of the above-mentioned assets. The decision is dated December 2016. The deal was completely closed an hour later, and a new owner became a long-time associate of Viktor Medvedchuk, also the owner of the Swiss group of companies Proton Energy. Accordingly, the business was initially considered to belong to Medvedchuk. Despite this fact, the business developed quite successfully, and by 2021 it already consisted of a number of different types of additional organizations. This is known from the materials of the investigation - according to the media, the investigators identified 21 organizations that worked under the umbrella of Glusco Retail LLC.
However, it cannot be said that the business developed proportionally — Glusco used only a part of the gas stations owned by the company. The attempt to develop additional brands: F+ and Mango turned out to be unsuccessful. At the same time, 23 stations were handed over to tenants. Their main advantage was modern equipment and a good location. Medvedchuk's figure was a negative factor — it gradually became clear that he was losing influence, assets, and business. After the searches, many market operators became interested in the prospects of acquiring the Glusco network. Rumors about the sale intensified when Medvedchuk was under sanctions.
However, the company was actually sold on December 6, 2021. It is then that Alexandros Alexandrou appears for the first time. However, the new owner was another EU citizen, Dimitrios Anifantakis, a native of Greece. He owned the company Snel Energy Limited, where Alexandros Alexandrou held the position of director.
Dimitrios Anifantakis is a well-known figure for oil traders. Previously, he collaborated with such major players as:
- Cargill SA
- BP plc
- "Lukoil" (until 2021)
However, Anifantakis remained the owner for a short time. After the start of a full-scale war, he decided to sell Snel Energy Limited. The director of the company — Alexandros Alexandrou (Cyprus) has decided to buy the company. The European investor understood the risks associated with assets in the territory of a country defending itself from an aggressor. However, after the liberation of Kyiv region and other successful actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the spring of 2022, Alexandros was sure that Ukraine would achieve international support and would win, and took a risk to make the investment. But in a couple of months he had to face the challenges.
By Order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 385-r dated May 13, 2022, the property of LLC "Glusco Ukraine" and LLC "Glusco Retail" was transferred to the management of the subsidiary company Naftogaz. Alexandros Alexandrou was surprised by such a decision, since according to the norms of international law, his company became the owner of the assets back in December 2021. Therefore, the European investor decided to protect his property rights. He has immediately hired a law firm and initiated an appeal to the court. Why has the state seized the assets?
In the spring of 2022, the assets of the Glusco network, or rather the asset holder and the operating company, came under the control of the National Agency of Ukraine for Tracing and Management of Assets Obtained from Corruption (ARMA). The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine requested such a decision. At the same time, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, said that the decision was made taking into account Medvedchuk's pro-Russian position and his support for aggression against Ukraine.
A few months later, Naftogaz reopened part of the assigned gas stations under the new brand. There are 30 such stations in total, and they are located mainly on the territory of Kyiv and the Kyiv region.
The information that the gas stations had already been bought earlier by a European investor was not disclosed. Also, there was no public evidence that the new owner was in any way connected with the Russian Federation. All that was presented to the public was a statement from the head of the communications department of ARMA Pavel Buldovich that the business was connected with the aggressor country, however, he did not provide the details, nor did he specify whether it was Medvedchuk or the new owner.
As a result, a paradoxical situation arose. The European investor lost his assets in Ukraine without any charges and even evidence. Alexandros Alexandrou perceives the situation as a misunderstanding and is confident that he will be able to protect his rights in a court. The Cypriot businessman is surprised that he is associated with pro-Russian forces, he considers the purchase of assets a promising investment, as he supports Ukraine and is confident that Ukraine will win.
Alexandrou has bought SNEL Energy Limited when the Ukrainian Armed Forces were able to knock out the aggressor's troops from the north of Ukraine. The deal was concluded on March 29, 2022. At that time, the company owned fuel warehouses and 125 gas stations. The company provided and preserved jobs to 626 employees.
"Then everything changed quickly. At first, there were decadent moods in the West and it seemed that the country was doomed. At that moment, the former owner decided not to risk and wanted to quickly sell the assets. I believed in the success of Ukraine, and it was confirmed very soon, - says Alexandros Alexandrou. — My idea was to lease gas stations to other Ukrainian operators, because there is good equipment there, and it can be useful. But first of all, we sought to help Ukraine - we immediately gave more than 2 million liters of fuel, as well as 14 gasoline trucks that were the property of the organization. At the same time, we had a total of 21 gas trucks, some of which were in the occupied territories. So we gave almost everything we could."
Biography of Alexandros Alexandrou
In order to understand the situation, it is worth studying in more detail the life and career path of Alexandros Alexandrou, in order to understand whether he was ever connected with the Russian Federation or pro-Russian politicians.
- Alexandros Alexandrou was born on the island of Cyprus (1978).
- Grew up, graduated from high school in Cyprus. There he received a diploma from the Solea Gymnasium and Lyceum, where he studied mathematics and economics.
- Later, Alexandros Alexandrou was a soldier of the National Guard of Cyprus. Since 1998, he has been a reserve officer (junior lieutenant).
- After the service, he continued his education. He graduated from Tomsk Polytechnic University, where he studied international management. He also has Master's degree in finance from the University of Wales (2016).
- Alexandros Alexandrou was engaged in logistics (1998–2001, Cyprus), telecom business (PrimeTel PLC, Cyprus), banking (2007–2012 senior consultant of the international department of Hellenic Bank PLC), legal business (at Michael Kyprianou & Co. LLC. business development for CIS countries and China), investment and development consulting.
- 2017 — 2022 — held the position of director of a development company engaged in residential and commercial real estate in Cyprus. At the same time, he provided consultations for businessmen.
- Since 2021 — director of SNEL Energy LTD (Cyprus). Later, he bought shares from the former owner of the business and became the sole shareholder of the company.
Perspectives of the Glusco case
Alexandros Alexandrou works with a team of experienced lawyers, trying to protect his rights in court. He insists that he is the only legitimate owner of the assets, and there were no legal grounds for their seizure. The Cypriot entrepreneur contacted representatives of the Office of the President of Ukraine, contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Ukraine. According to his statements, despite the situation, he believes in the European future of Ukraine and is confident that the issue will be resolved in the legal field, and the property rights of the European investor will be protected.
As of the end of spring 2023, the situation is developing as follows: Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 279/2023 On the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine dated May 12, 2023 "On the application and introduction of changes to personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)" sanctions were introduced against hundreds of different companies from different countries of the world.
The list also includes 4 companies that are part of the Snel Energy Limited group. Three of them are registered in Cyprus, and one more has Swiss registration. The Presidential decree opens the way to the nationalization of the gas station network, if such a lawsuit is filed by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Similar actions have already been taken in relation to some other companies that were also subject to sanctions.