March 4, 2021
The long-lasting drama of Motor Sich, the Zaporizhia-based major aircraft engine manufacturer, is taking an unexpected turn towards the company’s possible nationalization amid ongoing standoff with Chinese investors seeking to obtain the controlling stock of shares despite fierce opposition from the United States.
In a sudden move, David Arakhamia, the head of the ruling 248-seat parliament faction Servant of the People, asserted on March 4 that a draft bill on Motor Sich nationalization would be submitted to the Verkhovna Rada “this week.”
“This is a matter of national defense capability,” the lawmaker said.
“It is to settle up the legal status of the company that is a large constructor of helicopter engines. It is necessary to continue negotiations (with China), but there also needs to be a draft bill registered. Because the company is facing uncertainty, it is being sanctioned, and several tens of thousands of employees work in it.”
According to officials, the Motor Sich personnel want to have a clear understanding of the company’s legal status and its future.
As recently as Jan. 29, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky endorsed a decree to introduce sanctions upon Wang Jing, the head of Skyrizon – Beijing Xinwei Technology Group, a Chinese company seeking to purchase over 50% of Motor Sich shares from Ukrainian tycoon Oleksandr Yaroslavskiy.
The United States strongly opposed the sale of one of the world’s biggest manufacturer of helicopter engines, and had also imposed sanctions on the Chinese company citing its ties with the Chinese military and allegedly posing a threat to U.S. national security.
On Feb. 1, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it opposed any government introducing sanctions on Chinese businesses and called on Ukraine to ensure the rights of Chinese investors in its jurisdiction.
Skyrizon is continuing a legal battle in a bid to recover as much as $3.5 billion for damages from the Ukrainian government.
But in early February, following months of U.S. pressure, President Zelensky asserted during an interview with HBO’s show Axios that Ukraine would not let any foreign investor assume control of the Motor Sich Company, which is of strategic significance to the country’s defense.