Sunday 22 July 2018

Newsmaker: Maxim Korobov

Maxim Korobov
Maxim Korobov Newsdesk Newsdesk

Russian businessman Maxim Korobov is in Dublin this week with the next step in the battle over Petroneft's direction set to take place.

Korobov is the beneficial owner of Natlata Partners, Petroneft's biggest shareholder. He's requisitioned an egm, to take place in Dublin today, at which he's seeking to have the Irish-based oil and gas explorer's management removed.

Korobov would become acting CEO under the plan. He thinks the company is under-performing.

A former Russian soldier who was wounded in the Soviet-Afghan war, Korobov was previously a member of the Russian parliament for Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.

He has close links to the Tomsk region where Petroneft operates.

The current dispute is a re-run of a battle that broke out in 2014. Natlata called an egm but its efforts to get the management removed failed. Petroneft chairman David Golder called it a "very important day". Now Golder faces a vote on his job again.

Natlata has repeatedly rejected suggestions that it is trying to take over the company on the cheap, saying it wants to put two new independent directors on the board. It says it doesn't plan to take Petroneft private, but pointedly did not rule out a takeover bid in a 'Q&A' section on a recently established website.

"Our focus right now is on the issues that we believe to be of most critical and urgent importance to the business. We want to replace the directors that have overseen the protracted destruction of value at Petroneft, and rebuild the company for the benefit of all shareholders." On Friday, Petroneft's shares closed at 1.96p, having been at 5p in May.

For its part, Petroneft has given as good as it got in the Natlata dispute. It said Natlata has not "communicated or proposed any credible alternate strategy" for developing one of the company's major assets, saying that if the resolutions pass today that a farm-out agreement with Oil India could be imperilled.

The struggle has echoes of recent events at Petroneft's near namesake, the Irish-based oil and gas explorer Petroceltic.

After a long and bitter row with its largest shareholder, Worldview Capital Management, Petroceltic ended up in examinership, and Worldview now owns most of its debt.

Will Korobov find himself in a similarly strong position after today's egm?

Irish Independent

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