18 Aug 2010 16:11

Gazprom Neft paid $741 mln for disputed Sibir Energy shares

MOSCOW. Aug 18 (Interfax) - Gazprom Neft paid $741 million for a disputed 23.34% shareholding in Sibir Energy.

The oil produce said in an earnings report to US GAAP that it paid $525 million cash for a second 50%-stake in Bennfield, a firm that owns 25.66% of Sibir Energy, plus $216 million to offset the seller's debt to Gazprom Neft, on May 18.

The shareholding had been disputed by the businessmen Chalva Tchigirinski and Ruslan Baisarov. But the High Court in London in February this year dropped its consideration of a suit filed by Tchigirinsky contesting the transfer of his shares to firms controlled by Baisarov after the parties started to draft an out-of-court settlement.

Gazprom Neft paid $1.7 billion to consolidate 55% of Sibir Energy prior to buying the disputed shareholding. It bought 33.55% for GBP 642.59 million ($898 million at the then-exchange rate) on the market in the spring of last year and around $800 million to buy Orton Oil, the firm that owned 23.4% of Sibir Energy, from the businessman Igor Kesayev.

Given that Gazprom Neft paid $741 million for the last 23.34% of Sibir, the company must have spent more than $2.4 billion to consolidate 80.37% of Sibir's shares in total.

The City of Moscow owns just over 19% of Sibir, but Gazprom Neft said in the Q2 earnings report that it had sold 3.02% of Sibir to the City for an undisclosed amount as per an agreement reached last summer, which states the oil company would, in the future, own 75% and that the City would own 25% of Sibir. Sources have said the City might buy 5.71% of Sibir from Gazprom Neft, possibly in portions.