30 Aug 2010 10:43

Alekperov: not worthwhile for Lukoil to buy more shares from Conoco - Vedomosti

MOSCOW. Aug 30 (Interfax) - Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov does not believe it would be worthwhile for Lukoil to purchase more of the company shares being offered by ConocoPhillips.

"We have no intention of turning Lukoil into a private company. It should remain a public company," Alekperov said in an interview with the business daily Vedomosti.

Neither Alekperov nor Lukoil Vice President Leonid Fedun plan to purchase more shares in the company, he said. It would be a lot better for Lukoil if the shares being sold by Conoco were bought up by small shareholders.

Meanwhile, the board of directors and the management board have made no decision on whether to exercise the option to purchase more company shares, he said.

It was reported earlier that that the two companies struck an agreement July 28 by which Lukoil would buy up 7.6% (64,638,719 shares) of its stock for $3.44 billion. The deal also provides Lukoil with the option to acquire up to 98,728,900 (11.61%) shares in the form of depository receipts before September 26.

Fedun has said that the company might purchase only a portion of the shares covered by the option. Conoco has announced it might sell some Lukoil stock on the free market before the end of next year. According to the agreement, the Lukoil share price would be at least $55 per until September 27, and at least $53.25 until January 1, 2011. The agreement says the maximum amount of Lukoil stock to be sold via exchange is not to exceed 5 million shares in any month. Lukoil has preemptive rights to buy up the shares.

Conoco acquired the Russian government's 7.6% stake in Lukoil for $2 billion in 2004. The two companies later announced creation of a strategic alliance and said the U.S. company's stake would be increased to 10% and later to 20%, which occurred late in 2006. Conoco announced plans to reduce its stake in Lukoil to 10% from just over 20% in the first quarter of 2010. Conoco sold shares to Lukoil in April for $274 million, reducing its stake to 19.9%.