The Georgian Government has completed talks with shareholders of IDS Borjomi, one of the largest mineral water producers in Georgia, and will become a co-owner of the enterprise without having to make expenses for the move, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced on Monday.
The company revealed its controlling shareholder would transfer a 7.73 percent share of the company free of charge to the Government, adding the former would no longer have the controlling function.
Its announcement also said the number of such shareholders on the Board of Directors would be reduced from eight to two members, with the Chairman of the Board set to be a Government representative.
Garibashvili said the deal had been agreed with the country’s international partners and through consultations with British-based regulators. He also pledged to solve ongoing issues between the company and about 400 of its employees, who are on strike with demands of reinstatement of 50 coworkers dismissed recently.
Their other requests include issuance of salaries, return to previous labour conditions and lifelong contracts for each employee of the company.
Garibashvili pointed to involvement of Levan Davitashvili and Zurab Azarashvili, the country’s Economy and Health ministers, in negotiations between the parties, and called on the officials to solve the issue “as soon as possible”, noting support for the “fair demands” of the employees.
Borjomi announced a “temporary suspension” of production at both of its plants in Georgia in late April due to the war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Russian-owned businesses, while in mid-May it also announced submission of a formal proposal to transfer a part of its shares to the Georgian Government for free.
The company is partly owned by Alfa Group, one of the largest privately-owned financial investment conglomerates in Russia, with 60 percent of the mineral water company's shares owned by the conglomerate since 2013. The founder of Alfa Group is Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman, who has been listed by a number of countries among the sanctioned oligarchs since the start of hostilities in Ukraine.