25 Nov 2009 18:58

Interfax, AK&M Name Rosneft Winner of 2009 Openness Prize

Interfax and AK&M, news agencies authorized to disclose corporate information for the stock market, have named Russian oil company Rosneft (RTS: ROSN) as the winner of the this year‘s annual Prize for an Active Corporate Policy of Information Disclosure.

The prize, a crystal-shaped glass object symbolizing transparency, was handed to a Rosneft executive at a ceremony in Moscow on November 24 in which awards were also conferred on winners of the Director of the Year national prize. The ceremony had been organized by the Association of Independent Directors and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

"The crisis has become a test for honesty and openness for many companies, and for this reason the jury of the competition has paid special attention to how stably securities-issuing companies use what are the best practices of information disclosure," said Vladimir Gerasimov, executive director of Interfax and chairman of the jury.

"The jury has noted that Rosneft is invariably one of the first to publish its international accounts, holds regular telephone conferences for investors, is always prompt to publish important news for investors, and has improved the disclosure of information on dividends and rewards," Gerasimov said.

Rosneft Vice President Peter O‘Brien said the company saw the prize as a high assessment of its performance after its IPO in 2006 and as confirmation that it has chosen a correct path to follow.

He said Rosneft‘s practice of information disclosure enables shareholders to make objective assessments of the company‘s performance and that this, in turn, stimulates dialogue with owners of key stakes, including the Russian government, on a proposed reform of the taxation system in the oil industry.

The fact that the competition has been organized by news agencies authorized to disclose information gives special significance to Rosneft‘s having been declared the most open business, O‘Brien said.

The Prize for an Active Corporate Policy of Information Disclosure was instituted by Interfax and AK&M in 2003. It is conferred on companies that issue securities and have been disclosing information for potential investors particularly quickly and fully.

One of the criteria for winning the prize is whether a company has met its deadlines on disclosing its accounts based on international standards and whether such accounts have been comprehensive.

Other criteria are information on corporate events and on ultimate beneficiary owners, whether information has been disclosed simultaneously for Russian and foreign investors, and a general assessment of how a company has been behaving in publishing information in the crisis period.

The previous winners of the prize were Lukoil (RTS: LKOH) in 2003, TMK in 2007, Severstal in 2006, Russian Railways (RTS: RZHD) in 2005, Mechel Group in 2004, and Kalina Concern in 2003.

In October 2003, the stock market regulator put a rule into force prescribing that securities-issuing companies on a compulsory basis disclose information on their key events via the newswires of authorized agencies. Today 24,000 companies disclose their major events via authorized agencies, whose number went up to five in 2007.