QVT Fund, a global hedge fund with more than $11 billion under management, has a new ally in its dispute against Italy's Unicredit Group. Artradis Fund Management has joined QVT in its lawsuits against UniCredit's subsidiaries Bank Austria Creditanstalt and ATF Bank.
Artradis currently manages over US$3.3 billion dollars in various absolute return funds, and together with QVT, it accounts for 12.3% of ATF's preferred shares, which in total represent approximately 30% of ATF's share capital.
The dispute over the valuation of Kazakhstan's ATF Bank, which has recently been acquired by Unicredit's BACA, relates to the tender offer made by BACA for ATF preferred shares as well as the attempts by UniCredit to appoint an 'independent' director who was until eight months ago CEO of UniCredit Romania—a move in apparent breach of Kazakhstan business law, which requires three years' separation between connected parties before a director can be considered independent.
“We believe that the offer from Unicredit to minorities in ATF bank significantly undervalues the shareholding of Artradis and other parties,” said Martin Diggle, CIO of Artradis Russian Opportunities Fund. “Specifically, we feel that holders of preferred shares in ATF bank have been materially disadvantaged and we will fight for fair terms for all minorities in this case. We have faith that the Kazakh authorities will want to encourage further investment in this fledgling market, by ensuring an even playing field for all long term investors.”
However, Kazakhstan authorities are currently taking a laissez faire approach to the situation, drawing the attention of Transparency International, the global civil society organization against corruption, which said today that it has started its investigation of the matter.