By Giorgos Lampiris
The case of the historic Malamatina Winery seems to be developing along a long and ever-adventurous path, which is now clearly taking on political implications, with the support of PAME members and SYRIZA executives and MPs to the workers who have blocked the bottling plant in Kalochori, Thessaloniki. firing straight shots at the government and its manipulations.
Malamatina which has been fully acquired by the Mantis Emporiki group, it seems that after the serious financial difficulties it faced before its acquisition and under the previous ownership of businessman Constantinos Malamatina, it continues to be in a state of turmoil and in the new era under the heads of the new property, businessmen Charalambos and Alexandros Krommidas.
The new management of Malamatina, which counts 127 years of journey, spoke in a recent information note that it issued of “a small minority of trade unionists trying to maintain challenging privileges”, referring to the reactions expressed lately by some workers in combination with the ongoing strike actions.
The declaration of the August strikes as illegal by the court
And perhaps everyone would have expected that when the Multi-Member Court of First Instance of Thessaloniki approved at the end of December 2021 the reorganization plan of E. Malamatinas and Sons AEVE – as the name of the company was in its former form and under the old ownership – things would lead to a smoothness. However, this did not happen.
In the middle of this summer and while the business had already been transferred to the new company Malamatina Winery SA. of the Krommidas brothers, complaints by employees about the dismissal of their colleagues were accompanied by heaps of reactions and protest movements that even led to the occupation of the Kalochori facilities.
For its part, the company, in order to deal with the mobilizations and the occupation of the factory by workers and trade unionists, filed a lawsuit, which was heard by the Single-Member Court of First Instance of Thessaloniki, against the Workers’ Union of Malamatina. The court ruled that the specific 24-hour announced repeated strikes were illegal, while in its decision it stated that “the defendant (the Workers’ Union) will be fined 5,000 euros in the case of non-compliance with the decision”.
From the entanglements to the attempt at financial consolidation
Malamatina, under its previous head, Konstantinos Malamatina, went through several partners before reaching the current stage of financial rationalization. The first step of this rationalization was initially done with the sale of the subsidiary company Doumia, known for the production of carbonated water, to the Hellenic Dairies group of the Sarantis family, which manages the companies Olympos, Rodopi, Tyras, Kliafa, and recently acquired AGNO.
The second step was the sale of the winemaking activity to the Mantis group, which was asked to assume financial obligations of the previous ownership amounting to 13 million euros to banks, the State, insurance funds and private individuals, while it planned additional investments of 12 million euros.
Malamatina’s grim business past
In the past, Malamatina’s bleak business history involved several turbulent and successive episodes. One of them was mainly related to the differences that the former owner, Konstantinos Malamatinas, had with his ex-wife, whom he himself came to blame for many of the company’s woes. The two sides faced each other several times in the courtrooms to resolve their unbridgeable disputes.
The joint business life of Katerina with Konstantinos Malamatina records the creation of the coffee processing and marketing company Quiero Cafe SA. in 2002, headed by herself and her daughters, Estefania and Karolina. However, the company soon became loss-making, while a little later it was renamed Malamatina S.A. Wine and Beverages.
In 2003, Katerina Malamatina was actively involved in the affairs of E. Malamatinas and Son, while Konstantinos Malamatinas broke up with his sister Myrto in the same year, who then proceeded to implement her own venture, creating the “Myrto Malamatina” retsina “. Myrtos Malamatina’s disagreements with her family members were expressed in practice by the sale of her share in the company (39.8%) to ELGEKA for 6.7 million euros, an amount she used to finance her new business venture. The specific percentage was later recovered by K. Malamatinas with a price of 10 million euros which he paid to ELGEKA.
Another strong shock for the company came in 2005, when Constantinos Malamatina broke up with his mother, who held the position of president of the company, a position from which she resigned.
The expenses and the private plane “Falcon”
Konstantinos Malamatinas as well as his wife Katerina, are charged with a cycle of expenses, which were considered the main causes of the gloomy situation in which he was found, before the winemaking activity and the production of retsina fell to the Mantis group and also to the Hellenic Dairies group and Doumbia. Among the most high-profile of these expenses was the purchase of a Falcon aircraft worth 6 million euros, as a means of transportation to leisure destinations.
Broader business choices and a series of moves on the part of the previous owners led the company to severe loss-making results. In fact, Katerina Malamatina sought to take full control through the company K. Malamatinas SA, in which 38.9% of the shares of K. E. Malamatinas and Sons had fallen upon the repurchase of the percentage by ELGEKA. She herself, after a legal dispute and Constantinos Malamatina’s appeal to justice, was convicted of fraud, forgery and embezzlement, which was based on the judgment of the court that she tried with forgery to overturn the shareholding balances and assume leadership of the company.
In 2015, K. Malamatinas regained the management of the company. The court ruled as non-existent three decisions of the company K. Malamatinas SA, which overturned the shareholder composition in it, which re-attributed the majority of the shares to Konstantinos Malamatina. In the last published fiscal year of E. Malamatinas and Sons, that of 2020, the company’s total short-term liabilities amounted to 52.58 million euros with negative equity of 20.9 million euros.
Apart from the agreement with Mantis Emporiki, the winery of Ritsona and the private jet
As far as the vinification of the Malamatina resin as well as other products of the company is concerned, it is currently carried out in the wineries that the company maintains in the area of Faros Avlidos, which is the oldest of the two wineries that it maintains as well as in the second winery, the which was created in 2003 in the area of Asopia Thebes where the concentration tanks are also located.
These are essentially the two wineries, which were transferred to the Mantis group as part of the consolidation and acquisition agreement of E. Malamatinas and Sons together with the bottling plant in Kalochori, where stocks of bottled product are also kept. As regards the third Ritsona winery that E. Malamatinas owned in the past, it was not included in the specific agreement. In addition, the private plane owned by E. Malamatinas was also left out of the agreement and remains tied up by the banks, as is the case with the Ritsona winery.
In order to absorb the historic Winery, the Mantis group founded the subsidiary Malamatina Winery, which sells a wide portfolio of products such as Kalaitzi tsipouro, a line of Malamatina dry wines, as well as three spirits, Majuni, Masticha and Kentri.
The new company of the Mantis group was initially established under the name of Mantis Winery SA. at the beginning of December 2020 and pending the completion of the reorganization agreement and the acquisition of the troubled pre-existing company E. Malamatinas and Sons. After the ratification of the consolidation agreement, the company in question was renamed Malamatina Winery SA.