Business Irish

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Putin-linked firm seeks to replace bosses at PetroNeft

Published 19/03/2014 | 02:30

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An engineer works on the Siberia-focused, oil-production company PetroNeft pipeline.
Pumpjack in Motion
Pumpjack in Motion

An investment firm backed by a Russian oil investor and political ally of Vladimir Putin has called for five directors of Dublin-based PetroNeft Resources to be replaced.

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Dublin Stock Exchange-listed PetroNeft said yesterday that it had received a proposal from Natlata Partners requesting an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the company.

Natlata Partners is backed by Russian businessman and former politician Maxim Korobov and is the biggest single shareholder in Dublin-based PetroNeft.

It wants the EGM held to table a number of resolutions, including to remove five directors: Dennis Francis, David Sanders, Paul Dowling, David Golder and Vakha Sobraliev, from the board of the company and replace them with new nominees.

In a statement, PetroNeft said it was currently considering the proposal to hold an EGM with its advisers. A spokesman for Natlata said its shareholding means it is entitled to insist on the meeting going ahead.

The meeting must be held within 60 days of April 2, when a response to the shareholder must be made, the Natlata spokesman said.

As well as replacing the board members, Natlata wants independent experts appointed to review PetroNeft's oil reserves, and wants the company to consider alternative refinancing options to a deal struck this week.

It wants any deal in relation to Licence 61, regarded as a prized PetroNeft asset, to be subject to the approval of shareholders.

Petroneft said on Monday that it was in the process of securing a farm-out deal for Licence 61.

If it is not completed by April 15, Macquarie has the right to ask for the licence to be put up for sale.

Natlata has been a shareholder in PetroNeft since 2007. It is backed by Maxim Korobov, a businessman based in the oil- rich Tomsk region of Siberia, where PetroNeft's main activities are located.

Mr Korobov is the main shareholder in SGO Sibgasoil Investments, and is a former member of the Russian parliament or Duma.

He had been a deputy in Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party until 2011.

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Yesterday, Petroneft said Natlata previously had made a single written financing, that had been considered by the board together with its advisers, but deemed not to be in the interests of shareholders as a whole.

The board said that it would be strongly recommending that shareholders vote against the Natlata resolutions, if an EGM is called.

On Monday, PetroNeft said it had raised $6.7m (€4.8m) to fund the development of its Russian oilfield as the company works to nail down a farm-out deal before April.

Irish Independent

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