Su, 1.10.2023

CEO says Metaprint has 40 workers left in Russia

Martti Lemendik, the manager of the company Metaprint AS.
Martti Lemendik, the manager of the company Metaprint AS. Photo: Madis Veltman

Martti Lemendik, the manager of the company Metaprint AS that stands at the center of the scandal concerning Russia-related business interests of the husband of Estonian Prime Minster Kaja Kallas, says Metaprint has around 40 people, including technical and administrative staff, still employed at its Russian units at this point.

«We were operating in Russia already at a time when that country was on the democratic path, so today's assessments of the business environment are not relevant in the context of that time,» Lemendik told the newspaper, commenting on why the manufacturer of aerosol containers wanted to open a new factory in Russia before the war.

In the first week after the outbreak of the war, Metaprint stopped the construction of its plant in the Staroe Verevo industrial park, which they own, he said. The asphalted access roads with pavements and street lighting are now overgrowing with grass. Nearly 800 concrete piles are sticking out of the ground. In addition, all the utility systems had been built.

Lemendik said the company correctly terminated all existing contracts and thereby suffered significant losses.

«We've been waiting for months for a decision of the special committee to get approval for the sale of the plot of land intended for the factory in the Moscow region. There has been no positive response and there will probably not be any more,» he said.

The manager of Metaprint explained that at the time the war broke out, their outstanding credit portfolio was close to a billion rubles. By immediately stopping deliveries, they would have left such amount of money in the Russian economy as a gift.

«Instead, we decided to implement an extremely complex receivables management plan where, with declining deliveries, we would still keep customers paying us,» he explained.

According to Lemendik, such a strategy enabled the company to bring back to Estonia two-thirds of the total amount of credit issued.

«In light of what is happening at the moment, this strategy is probably becoming unusable,» he added.

«When implementing this strategy, we agreed with Stark that all trucks will be returning empty, no services will be provided to potential Russian customers. Of course, bringing trucks back empty was financially harmful, but we had no other options,» the manager of Metaprint added.

Lemendik refused to be specific when asked when did Metaprint sign the last contracts in Russia.

«In our field of activity, framework contracts are concluded for up to five years. Within the framework contract, conditions can be specified year by year. Specific customer contracts are confidential,» he said.

It emerged earlier this week that Stark Logistics, a road haulage company co-owned by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' husband Arvo Hallik, has continued to transport goods to Russia throughout the war, as Stark's business partner Metaprint, which also owns a stake in Stark Logistics, has not been able to wind up its business in Russia in a year and a half.

Stark Logistics and Metaprint are linked not only contractually, but also through ownership. The manager of Metaprint, Martti Lemendik, is Stark Logistics' biggest beneficial owner and chairman of the supervisory board.

Kallas told Postimees on Thursday that she was not involved in her spouse's business activities and that any business activity in Russia was ethically objectionable. According to Kallas, her husband has confirmed that the company's activities in Russia will end in September.

«No money has been left in Russia and the war machine has not been fed,» the premier contended.