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ALIYEVS’ EMPIRE FLOURISHES WHILE LIVING STANDARDS PLUMMET

This article was published on 24 May 2018 at 01:53 PM. It has 88 views so far.

A company controlled by the First Daughters expanded its assets rapidly as savings and living standards in Azerbaijan plummeted with the national currency.

The massive Azerbaijani company, Pasha Holding, controls over 100 subsidiaries in everything from finance and real estate to agriculture, retail, and catering. The company’s assets are primarily concentrated in Azerbaijan, but extend across the border to Turkey, Georgia, and Montenegro.

Pasha Holding was previously controlled by its namesake, Arif Pashayev, father of First Vice President and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, but in 2013 Pashayev passed control of the holding to the First Couple’s daughters, Arzu and Leyla Aliyeva.

Since that time, the national currency, the manat, has lost half its value, causing living standards and savings to plummet as debt skyrocketed (most bank loans had been calculated in dollars or euros). Yet Pasha Holding’s assets rose from $3.3 billion in 2013, to $4.1 billion in 2017, the equivalent of over 40% of Azerbaijan’s state budget for that year.

This is even more impressive taking into account the fact that the vast majority of Pasha Holding’s business is conducted in Azerbaijan in the national currency. The value of the company’s assets calculated in manats has skyrocketed from 2.6 billion AZN in 2013 to 6.9 billion AZN in 2017. It’s an open question as to how Pasha Holding achieved this staggering growth.

Pasha Holding’s deals

There is no precise information about the capital of Pasha Holding LTD and many of its subsidiaries (Pasha Concrete, Pasha Construction, PMD Group, Amal Invest Group, etc) because they evade providing open information for the registry of commercial organizations, but at least some information is publicly available.

In 2009, residents were resettled en masse from Khan Shushinski Street in Baku and the neighborhood was demolished. The families that had been forced out of their homes told the media that the area had been taken for state needs: a residence was being built for President Ilham Aliyev. No such property, however, is included on the list of presidential residences last updated in 2017. Instead, a complex of luxury homes was built there, mostly populated by the heads of the various diplomatic corps in Azerbaijan. The complex, called Baku City Villas, belongs to Pasha Holding.

Baku City Villas
Baku City Villas.

PMD Group, founded in 2013, is rapidly growing. In short order, the company acquired a 37.5% stake in Bank Avrasiya (63.8 million AZN in capital), began managing the hotels Shamakhi Palace Shiradil (45.5 million AZN) and Naftalan Gashalti (8.1 million AZN), and founded Prime Estates – a real estate company with 17.8 million AZN in capital. In 2013, the state leased a 523 hectare agropark in Yalama to PMD Group for 49 years, as well as 956 hectares of pastures in Mugtadir.

In 2015, Pasha Holding signed several large investments both inside and outside the country, including:

  • The purchase of Turkish TAIB Yatirim Bank from Aksoy Holding and its transformation into Pasha Yatirim Bank OJSC;
  • The establishment of Blue Planet Distribution, which controls a beachfront hotel in Shurabad (Khizi District) and numerous sports and clothing shops in Baku;
  • The establishment of Azerbaijan Supermarket and Bravo Supermarket, large importers and retail chains;
  • The rapid expansion of PMD Group LTD, which operates in the fields of agriculture, processing, construction, real estate, hotel management and recreation, banking, etc.;
  • The expansion of the holding’s hotel, public catering, and cinema network, etc.

Pasha Holding LTD holds a 60% share in Pasha Bank, which operates in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. As of 1 October 2017, the bank’s consolidated financial report said its assets were worth 3.5 billion AZN and aggregate capital was worth 372 million AZN. On the same day, assets in Kapital Bank OJSC (99.87% of its shares belong to Pasha Holding LTD) were worth 3 billion AZN and capital was worth 287.6m AZN.

The capital of Pasha Development LTD was most recently published in February 2017, reportedly controlling a total of 420 million AZN in capital, including 72 million AZN in Pasha Insurance, and 58 million AZN in Pasha Life Insurance. This year the group acquired a fashionable hotel complex in Bilgah and invested 100 million AZN in the company that runs it (Yeni Bilgah Oteli).

Pasha Holding holds a 10% share in SOCAR Polymer which is being built in Sumgayit and is planned to be put into operation in the middle of this year.

Pasha Holding’s public significance

In October 2014, Azerbaijan’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a list of entities of public significance that were to do their accounting in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards. Pasha Holding was not included in the list, which contains many well-known domestic companies. At the time the holding matched at least two of three criteria required to be considered an entity of public importance: the number of employees at the holding was 2,500 (the requirement was 1,500) and its assets exceeded 2.6 billion AZN (the requirement was 300 million AZN). The third requirement was that annual revenues must exceed 120 million AZN, which is certainly true of Pasha Holding now, but the government has not updated the list of entities of public importance for over three years. If Pasha Holding is ever added to the list, the public will gain access to the company’s consolidated financial statements.