Abramovich oil firm 'disingenuous', says former partner Sibir

The AIM-listed oil explorer Sibir Energy hit out at Roman Abramovich's Sibneft oil giant yesterday as the dispute between the two companies over a joint venture intensified.

The AIM-listed oil explorer Sibir Energy hit out at Roman Abramovich's Sibneft oil giant yesterday as the dispute between the two companies over a joint venture intensified.

The latest twist in the saga came with the publication of Sibneft's 2003 annual accounts which revealed that the group controlled 99 per cent of the Sibneft-Yugra joint venture it has with Sibir. The shareholder structure of the venture was originally a 50-50 split but Sibir discovered earlier this year that it had been diluted down to just 1 per cent without its consent. The group's shares were suspended in April as it moved to restore its holding.

Yesterday, Henry Cameron, Sibir's chief executive, accused Sibneft of having behaved in a "disingenuous" manner in the dispute. He said that Sibneft first claimed it knew nothing of the dilution, only for it to emerge this week that it had greatly benefited from it. "Sibneft now admits what they have clearly known all along, namely that they were the beneficiaries of the dilution wrongfully inflicted on Sibir," he said.

Sibir said that the dilution executed at the Sibneft-Yugra was illegal and that it will do its best to restore its 50 per cent shareholding, which presently stands at just 1 per cent.

Sibneft,controlled byChelsea football club's owner, Roman Abramovich, and a number of associates, was quick to deny that it had anything to do with the original dilution of the Sibneft-Yugra, which it says took place in 2002, a year after it was set up to explore the oil reserves of the Priobskoye field in Siberia. Mr Abramovich's company said it acquired the 49 per cent stake, which took its total holding in Sibneft-Yugra to 99 per cent, from a third party in 2003. It was unclear who this third party is or whether it was involved in the dilution.

The person most affected by the setback at Sibir is its largest shareholder, the Russian businessman Chalva Tchigirinski. He controls 40 per cent of the group via his Isle of Man-registered vehicle, Bennfield. There are also a number of UK institutional investors that will be left out of pocket. Among them is Charlemagne Capital and M&G Investment Management.

Shares in Sibir were suspended at 28p at the company's request and are tipped by analysts to fall sharply once they are re-listed on London's junior market. Mr Tchigirinski said: "Sibir's interest in Sibneft-Yugra has been misappropriated and we will have it back."

But analysts believe he and his company face a lengthy legal battle in the Russian courts, which are not known for their efficiency. Meanwhile, the dispute further dents Russia's reputation in the eyes of investors, which is struggling to recover from news at the start of the week that the government plans to seize the assets of Yukos, the country's biggest company.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions