I'm not interested in PetroNeft takeover, insists Korobov

Petroneft's biggest shareholder has said he is not interested in launching a takeover offer for the company

Donal O'Donovan

PetroNeft's biggest shareholder has said he is not interested in launching a takeover offer for the company.

Russian investor Maxim Korobov cited the current share price and uncertainty over the terms of a farm-out deal with an unnamed third party as reasons for not making a full approach.

However, his Natlata Partners vehicle is pushing for a huge shake-up of PetroNeft, including the removal of five of its seven directors. The company is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

The plan includes a proposal to replace non-executive chairman David Golder and chief executive Dennis Francis.

Mr Korobov, who has served as a deputy in Russia's parliament, the Duma, with President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, is based in the oil-rich Tomsk region. PetroNeft's exploration assets are mainly located in the same region.

The Russian investor travelled to Dublin yesterday, along with his nominee to become the new chief executive of PetroNeft, Pavel Tetyakov.

They were here to meet analysts and brokers ahead of PetroNeft's extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on May 9 at the Herbert Park Hotel in the city.

"I am not satisfied with management or the board," Mr Korobov told the Irish Independent yesterday.

PetroNeft now needs money, new management and technology, including horizontal drilling and use of 3D seismic imaging, to maximise its assets, which Natlata can provide, he said.

But Mr Korobov is not necessarily opposed to the board's current plan for a 'farmout' of PetroNeft's Licence 61 asset and will support the deal if it is on attractive terms.

However, he remains in the dark on those terms, which are expected to be announced by mid-April, he said.

Natlata's proposals, which will be voted on at next month's EGM, include wanting to install Pavel Tetyakov as chief executive and UK-based Richard Thornton as chief finance officer and company secretary.


Three other proposed directors – David Sturt, Anthony Sacca and Fraser Innes – would serve as independent, non-executive directors, Mr Korobov said. Current directors Thomas Hickey and Gerard Fagan would remain in situ under the proposal.

Mr Korobov would be supportive of shareholders wishing to nominate other directors, he said.

He backs PetroNeft remaining an Irish company with a Dublin listing, he told this newspaper.

Natlata has received a positive reaction from other investors since launching a public campaign to unseat five member of the PetroNeft board, according to Mr Korobov. He has been a shareholder in PetroNeft since 2007, initially as a passive investor, he added.