By Marie Mannes
(Reuters) - Finnish maker of forestry machines Ponsse said on Tuesday it had sold its subsidiary providing services in Russia and Belarus for an undisclosed sum to OOO Bison, a Russian company set up a month ago by the owner of its local retailer.
Bison is owned by Aleksey Voronkevich, whose company Dormashimport has been the retailer of Ponsse's forestry machines in the eastern parts of Russia since 2007, Ponsse said.
Interfax news agency's Spark database of Russian companies lists Voronkevich as the co-owner or former co-owner of a string of companies in the automobile trading industry, the majority of which are based in the Khabarovsk Krai region in the far east.
Dormashimport is listed as no longer active, but Bison was registered on May 23 this year.
Chief Executive Officer and president of Ponsse, Juho Nummela confirmed to Reuters that Bison was created specifically to buy Ponsse's subsidiary.
"The company of OOO Bison will concentrate on the functions that OOO Ponsse had, so maybe in the future doing similar kinds of business," Nummela said.
The CEO said there was no clause in the contract of the possibility of Ponsse acquiring back the company, and had no knowledge of the plans for the company
"That is their business now. Us conducting business in Russia with our own company is basically impossible because of the sanctions, and we had to do this.
Ponsse joins Western companies which have agreed to sell their Russian assets to local management following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February.
Finnish elevator maker Kone said on Tuesday it would sell its business in Russia and French tyre maker Michelin announced plans to transfer its Russian activities to local management.
Sales in Russia and Belarus accounted for around 20% of Ponsse's total sales last year, said the company, which expects to close the deal by the end of the third quarter.
The group, which announced its plan to divest the Russian business on June 15, said the sale would not have a material impact on its results.
Ponsse, which withdrew its 2022 profit guidance in March when it discontinued all operations in Russia, said it would update the outlook to reflect the new company structure in connection with its mid-year report on Aug. 9 at the latest.
(Reporting by Marie Mannes in Gdansk; editing by Milla Nissi and David Evans)