MOSCOW, Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Perlov Tea House, a Moscow landmark a mere half-mile away from the Kremlin, has seen a hostile takeover attempt in the most egregious style of the 1990s Russia, reports RUSSIA! Magazine in its new section devoted to doing business in that country.
This blast from the past was directed against the 80 year-old Zhanna Kirtbaya, the Tea House owner and great-granddaughter of the original building manager for Perlov, a prominent Russian tea merchant who built the Tea House in 1890.
Back in 2005, after signing a long-term hire-purchase deal with the Moscow City Hall, Kirtbaya brought in asset management company FINAM to invest US$ 1.2 million in renovation of the Perlov Tea House in exchange for a 25% stake in the Kirtbaya's family business. Kirtbaya alleges FINAM immediately proceeded to break the terms of the agreement, attempting to buy part of the building leased to a retail store instead of investing in actual renovation of the Tea House. FINAM claimed that Ms. Kirtbaya borrowed a significant amount from it in Krasnodar, a southern Russian city some 1,200 miles away from Moscow, replacing the CEO of the building management company and taking de-facto control over it.
Change in management is a frequently used tactic of Russian "raiders," enabling them to strip a company of its most valuable assets while the original owners fight against the management change in Russian courts. In this case, the 80 year-old owner of the Perlov Tea House refused to vacate the building, surviving an unprecedented 75 day-long siege, during which she alleges FINAM armed security personnel blocked deliveries of medications to Kirtbaya and prevented her from talking to the media. Despite these efforts, the media provided extensive coverage of the Perlov House siege, with several pickets posted outside in Kirtbaya's support.