Russia's billionaire car salesman, owner of Rolf to sell up

Russia's billionaire car salesman, owner of Rolf to sell up
Sergei Petrov started his career as a taxi driver before setting up Russia's largest car dealership Rolf / wiki
By bne IntelliNews November 15, 2019

The owners of the largest car dealer in Russia Rolf are looking for buyers for 100% in the company, Vedomosti daily reported on November 14 citing the founder of the dealer Sergei Petrov.

Petrov’s son Alexander controls 98.32% in the Cyprus-registered Delance Limited that controls the dealer.

One of Russia’s oldest car dealerships, the company was set up by former taxi driver Petrov in the early 90s. Petrov built the company up from nothing by doing honest business and offering value for money at a time when the car sales and import business was highly corrupt, he told bne IntelliNews in an exclusive interview “Sergei Petrov - Russia's billionaire car salesman”. The company was called Rolf to emphasis its foreignness as Rolf is never used as a name in Russia.

However, he has fallen foul of suspected corporate raiding and ennui at his success and the company’s offices were raided in June as part of a money laundering investigation. Petrov was ordered not to leave the country. He denies any wrongdoing and claimed the investigation was part of a corporate raid.

In March, the company announced it is considering an IPO. According to the latest reports the asset will first be proposed to a small number of undisclosed investors in Russia and abroad. Rolf made RUB230bn revenues and RUB6.3bn in net profit in 2018.

Analysts surveyed by Vedomosti remind that the car market is in decline and that Rolf has RUB20bn debt to Sberbank, FC Otrkitie, and VTB Banks, with the state banks probably being the most likely buyers as none of the industry peers would be currently able to take over Rolf.