Wednesday, 13 November

No Takers Yet: Assets of UniFish, Armenia’s Largest Fish Farmer, On Auction Block

UniFish, the largest fish farming company in Armenia, was declared bankrupt last November and a portion of its assets have been put up for auction.

Harout Gharibyan, who is handling the bankruptcy case, told Hetq that UniFish’s debts of US$17 million exceed its assets.

The company owes ACBA-Credit-Agricole-Bank 6.5 million Euros and $5.1 million in loan payments.

And there are a lot of assets to unload. Currently, five business locations located in the communities of Ranchpar and Sayat Nova in Ararat Province (buildings, vehicles, 650 fish tanks, 53 wells, etc.) with a starting bid of 6 billion AMD are on the auction block. So far, there haven’t been any takers.

Also up for auction is an 826 square meter house and a 1,000 square meter adjacent parcel of land registered under Sousanna Simonyan, the wife of UniFish Director Armen Mkrtchyan. The minimum bid for these is 407 million AMD.

Fish stocks at the five businesses are also being auctioned – some 695,000 kilograms. The minimum bid for the fish is 1.7 million AMD.

In total, some 8.2 billion AMD in UniFish movable and fixed assets are up for auction. The amount more or less equals the $17 million in company debt.

Those with their eye on snatching up UniFish assets are waiting for the asking price to come down and are thus refraining from placing bids right now.

UniFish Exports Ltd., established in 2011, has also been declared bankrupt. Its debt obligations amount to US$1.7 million. It also owes $290,000 to Byblos Bank Armenia, 6 million AMD to ACBA Leasing, 264 million AMD to Spayka Company, and $565,000 to Towerbell Corp.

In 2007, the sole shareholder of UniFish was Armen Mkrtchyan, who founded the company. In 2014, he transferred his shares to a company called M-T Capital Holdings, registered in the Seychelles.

UniFish Exports is owned by Tigran Ghazaryan, who resides in Moscow.

Harout Gharibyan says the reason for UniFish going bankrupt was the devaluation of the Russian ruble, but this claim cannot be confirmed.

Since being declared bankrupt, UniFish shareholders and top management have left Armenia.

Then Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan visits UniFish in 2008

Arkady Gevorgyan, former president of Armenia’s Union of Fish Farmers, says that the sector is in bad shape due to the fact that Russia’s middle class, where a majority of Armenia’s fish exports went, are no longer consuming the product due to a weakened ruble.

In turn, fish exports from Armenia have annually been decreasing. Gevorgyan believes the reasons are a shrinking Russian market and business/legal issues in Armenia.

Gevorgyan also argues that threats made by Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection to reduce water supplies to fish farmers and raise water prices even more, foments an unstable business sector environment.

“It’s necessary to pass a law regarding fish farming that will regulate relations between fish farmers and state water and land agencies, environmentalists, and other government bodies,” Gevorgyan says.

Top photo: Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan visits UniFish in 2011

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