ArmInfo. Russian businesswoman Svetlana Ershova became the owner of 47.6% of the shares of Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine (ZCMC), the largest copper-molybdenum combine in Armenia.
The transaction was made a few days before the decision of the US Treasury Department, represented by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control, a division of the Ministry of Finance responsible for law enforcement in the field of sanctions), to include in the new sanctions list the business entities of a large Russian entrepreneur Roman Trotsenko, in particular Aeon Infrastructure Corporation LLC (AEON Corporation), as well as his son Gleb Trotsenko, who was previously the nominal beneficial owner of a large stake in ZCMC.
The official statement released today by Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine CJSC notes in particular, that " neither the Company nor its shareholders or ultimate beneficial owners are included in any sanctions lists issued by relevant sanctions authorities as of the date of this statement, and no international sanctions are applicable to the Company."
It is noted that, Mr. Gleb Trotsenko, who formerly held a beneficial ownership position in the Company, no longer retains such status due to the alienation of all his indirect shares in the Company on October 27, 2023. "Currently, there is no relationship between Mr. Trotsenko and the Company," the statement notes, which provides a link to the official website of the State Register of Legal Entities of the RA Ministry of Justice.
AEON Corporation, which has come under US sanctions, is a diversified holding that invests in the construction of residential and industrial facilities and river transport enterprises as well as regional Russian airports within the Novaport holding group.
It is through the Novaport holding that there is a direct affiliated connection between Roman Trotsenko and Svetlana Ershova, who back in 2012 was the vice president of AEON Corporation, that is, Trotsenko's immediate deputy. In recent years, the businesswoman has been managing the Moscow Profi company, which she owns. It is her company that today works in direct connection with the Novaport holding, which has transferred part of its assets- airports in Varonezh, Ulan-Ude and others, to the Profi company for management . Ershova is a member of the board of directors of the airports of Murmansk and Perm.
According to independent economic observers, the transfer of shares by Trotsenko to Svetlana Ershova is certainly nominal in nature and is aimed at officially avoiding American sanctions. This, according to observers, is a completely effective solution that will not call into question the modernization program of the Zangezur plant, expanding its activities by increasing production from 22 to 40 million tons of ore in the next 2-3 years, and most importantly, will not become an obstacle to exports raw materials to European buyers.
Let's remind that in 2020, the new indirect owner of ZCMC's controlling shares was Roman Trotsenko through Industrial Company JSC, which acquired 100% of the GeoProMining company from businessman Siman Povarenkin. On September 30, the RA government approved the decision to accept as a gift 25% of the shares of Industrial Company JSC, which currently constitute 21.8% of the total capital of ZCMC. An important component of the deal is the investment program, within the framework of which it is planned to build a smelter, which will allow Armenia to export not the concentrate, but the metal itself. As Roman Trotsenko stated, the volume of total investment in the construction of a copper smelter (smelter), a second ZCMC open pit, an enrichment plant and a new medium-capacity nuclear power plant in Armenia is estimated at $3-3.5 billion. Of these, the volume of own investments will amount to $2 billion, the construction of the nuclear power plant will require investments from Rosatom - approximately $400 million, and borrowings will also be attracted.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan then noted that the government is faced with the task of launching the construction of a copper smelter by June 2025, and trying to ensure that construction work on a nuclear power plant starts in parallel with this.
However, most likely, these deadlines will be seriously adjusted, since the establishment of the smelter is still at "idea thinking" stage. Moreover, the basis of the smelter should be a significant increase in the raw material base and production. As Roman Tratsenko previously stated in an interview with ArmInfo back in 2021, the construction of a smelter is "a rather complex project, so it must be completed in stages. As a rule, it takes 2-2.5 years from the beginning of the project to the first construction, so today we are at the very beginning of its discussion".
The GeoProMining Group of Companies (GeoProMining) has been operating in Armenia since 2007, with the acquisition of the GPM Gold company, which developes the Sotk gold mine and the Ararat gold recovery plant. Then the company acquired the Agarak copper-molybdenum plant. The company invested about $400 million in the Armenian economy and became the largest private industrial investor in Armenia. Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine CJSC (ZCMC) is the largest mining company in Armenia. This year, the company topped the list of the country's largest taxpayers. The plant developes the Kajaran copper-molybdenum mine. The plant's supply of ore is about 150 years. The plant produces molybdenum and copper concentrates. Molybdenum concentrate contains 50% molybdenum, the copper content in copper concentrate is not less than 15%.