Ah, the tangled web of automotive high finance. Victor Muller, CEO and largest shareholder of Dutch automaker Spyker Cars said “oops” (or Dutch words to that effect) and reduced his voting interest is Spyker from 34.3 percent to 26.8 percent.
Why? It just dawned on Muller (or his CPAs) that with more than 30 percent he would have had to make a buyout offer for the rest of the shares. After having gobbled up Saab through complex dealings involving Russian money of dubious provenance, being forced to buy out the whole company because of some silly law wasn’t a high priority for Muller.
Rules are rules, so what’s a newly minted tycoon to do?
A company was created in Cyprus. Victor Muller transferred just under 1.3 million shares to that Cyprus company, reducing his voting rights in Spyker to 26.8 percent. Muller can buy his shares back at any time for the same price the entity paid. “Any increase in the value of the shares will be for the benefit of Mr. Muller if the option is exercised,” says a Spyker statement, published by Reuters.. In essence, Muller parked his shares on an island in the Mediterranean, where they won’t trigger any nasty buyback clauses.
Who owns or manages that Cyprus company, called Dorwing Solution Ltd., is anybody’s guess. The beauty of a Cyprus International Business Company (“IBC”) is that a beneficial owner of an IBC has the option not to disclose his details should he wish so. The beneficial owner may also use nominee shareholders based on a personal agreement or a deed of trust. In other words: You’ll never know. Ah, and taxes in Cyprus are also low: 10 percent of net profits. Did we mention that Cyprus is a favorite destination of Russian organized crime? No? Now we did.
How does this grab you: “US and European intelligence and law enforcement officials say Cyprus remains a haven for shadowy enterprises ranging from Islamic terrorists to narco-gangsters, as well as for Russian and other citizens of the former Soviet Union seeking the perfect destination to park, clean and re-export billions in stolen cash.” Saabsunited also has interesting words on Spyker, the Russians, and Cyprus.