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Soorm: We are seeking a friendly divorce with HKScan

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PHOTO: SANDER ILVEST/

HKScan, which changed its entire Baltic management team, is continuing negotiations to conclude the vigorous shake-up with a friendly agreement within a couple of days, former CEO Teet Soorm says.

Q: The HKScan management just announced that, as of now, the concern’s entire Baltic business will be headed by Anne Mere rather than Teet Soorm. There is no proof that your actions caused any direct financial harm, but you are being blamed for failure to declare your interests to the concern. Why?

TS: I was requested a declaration once and I have responded to that request. This declaration includes specific questions and I can swear on the Bible that I have answered to all of them.

Q: HKScan executive manager Jari Latvanen described that the connected transactions effectively concerned all activities of the enterprise: construction, technology, feed and raw material purchases. Including firms belonging to your father.

TS: We built up an efficient and practical pig growing system for the first time after the agricultural reform. My father worked in enterprises connected with the system and he has now more than 20-percent stake in them. It has been public, since these enterprises have been frequently mentioned by the media since 2010.

After the agricultural reform, only 250,000 pigs out of one million remained in Estonia. We were told that the Rakvere slaughterhouse capacity must be met. The available Western systems were completely unacceptable to the Estonian farmers. The Finns were unwilling to make loans with banks or to set up farms, but urgently demanded pigs. But pig growing had efficiently ended in Estonia by that time.

Since the collective farm managers said that they would not talk to the slaves of the Finns and would not become slaves either, we had top find people, who would build up the new system.

Now we are breeding piglets at EKSEKO, then turn them over to farmers for fattening and they take the pigs to Rakvere. We have standard contracts with all partners and they have built standard farms.

I am my father’s son, I cannot deny it. Father is still busy with his advisory work. Everybody knows him, because he has been working in this system.

One could call it an apparently lawful scheme, but all that was inevitable for creating the system. We have done actual work, we have produced pigs, the payments have been fair. I am not sure whether a Finn can understand that all this had to be built up from scratch.

Q: The press conference did not mention any crime indeed. But why did they fire you with this big noise if everything was OK?

TS: Every new manager has the right to form his own team. History has to decide whether our decisions were correct or wrong at some moment. And we shall see, whether further management of the enterprise will remain correct, veterinary-wise.

Q: Who or what found you and your team such a stumbling block?

TS: Well, we are quite independent. We do know every nook and cranny here.

Q: Or did you tell off the new manager at some meeting?

TS: I have never done that. I do tell off stupid people, but Jari Latvanen is a practical man. I got that impression at first sight and had it today as well. But he should establish himself in a much more polite manner.

Q: Did you feel any opposition within the enterprise or block somebody’s career?

TS: On the contrary, I know that our staff has written letters of support and would like to have us back.

Q: If it is really the matter of a newcomer establishing himself, why then here, in Estonia?

TS: Our enterprise has had excellent results every year: the Baltic region is the best in the group. Maybe they want to divert attention from something.

Q: What could that be?

TS: I rather would not guess.

Q: You had an unfriendly divorce and could freely say it.

TS: We did not have an unfriendly divorce, since we have not divorced yet. No papers have been sign so far. We want to sit down and discuss these matters in a calm manner.

Q: What does that mean?

TS: The negotiations are still ongoing; they should end in a couple of days. Both sides are seeking a friendly divorce. You cannot hasten such things.

Q: Do you feel that the press conference was fair to you?

TS: Yes. There were reasonable people behind that table. They did not attack us or wash dirty laundry in public.

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