17 Mar 2010 13:07

Continental Management no longer chief owner of Baikal Pulp and Paper

IRKUTSK. March 17 (Interfax) - Continental Management Forest Products Company is no longer the chief owner of Baikal Pulp and Paper (Irkutsk region), company spokeswoman Oxana Gorlova told journalists on Tuesday.

"We ask you to note changes in the ownership structure of Baikal Pulp and Paper: 49% owned by the state (Rosimushchestvo) and 25.07% - Continental Invest (Nikolai Markov). The issue of transferring the other 25.2% to the city of Baikalsk is currently being discussed. Neither [Oleg Deripaska's] Basic Element nor Continental Management are chief shareholders of the company," Continental Management said in a statement.

It was reported earlier that Basel, which held a controlling stake (50.27%) in Baikal Pulp and Paper via Continental Management, might transfer 25.2% of shares to Baikalsk, whose economy is dominated by the plant. In mid-February it was learned that Makarov, Deripaska's partner for the forest products business, would receive 25.07% of shares in the plant in exchange for his minority stake in Continental Management.

Baikal Pulp and Paper halted operations at the end of 2008 - shortly after the company switched to using water in a closed cycle rather than discharging into Lake Baikal - when the company found it could not operate at a profit. In January 2010 a government resolution was signed that removed the obstacles to restarting the plant. Specifically, it removed cellulose, paper and cardboard manufactured without using a closed water cycle from the list of activities that were prohibited in the Lake Baikal ecology zone.

The plant is now receiving permits to resume various production operations. A host of environmental groups are protesting the decision to restart Baikal Pulp and Paper.