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Opinion: the worry about Landkom's new boss

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Landkom's unusual leadership choice gets it out of one hole. The question is if it starts work on another.

Vitaliy Skotsyk's appointment as chief executive at the Ukraine farming group has a big idiosyncracy – it allows him to remain in charge of another company, Amaco, the tractor business he has grown over 12 years.

That oddity could potentially prove a sticking point.

Plus points

Sure, the deal certainly works on many levels. For any business in Ukraine, it is imperative to have a boss familiar with the country's, er, idiosyncratic ways of doing business.

That is especially true for a farming concern, which relies on leasing land – a touchy subject in many countries.

And it applies even more so when Landkom faces, besides its day-to-day challenges, potential tie-ups.

Mr Skotsyk's experience in Ukraine agriculture provides just the connections and protection that Landkom needs.

Mr Skotsyk, meanwhile, gets options over 1% of Landkom's shares. A potentially large payday, in dollar-denominated shares listed in London, would be a pretty attractive deal for many entrepreneurs in the former Soviet Union.

Too much?

The troubles will start if Mr Skotsyk may get pulled two ways, between his Amaco and Landkom duties.

That might not be a problem if Landkom agrees a tie-up involving a new chief executive, so allowing Mr Skotsyk to walk away with his payoff and prestige.

But if Skotsyk stays for long, there is the potential for an unhappy compromise. Running Landkom is no easy task – it tested former boss, Richard Spinks, who is an experienced entrepreneur.

And the groups needs more than a part-time chief executive to get it through current troubles, which include disappointing crop yields, a land and costs retreat and sapped cash reserves.

Delayed applause

Black Earth Farming, the Stockholm-listed Russia farming group, showed the limitations of appointing a local boss with its well-connected appointment Igor Smolkin. He left after less than a year.

Investors may be wise to wait to see how Mr Skotsyk performs before giving them their unquestioning support.


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