Russian bank claims 50 per cent stake in Timan oil group

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The Independent Online

Russia's National Reserve Bank has taken a 50 per cent stake in the struggling oil and gas explorer Timan, converting its loan into equity after Timan defaulted on debt repayments.

Shares in Timan, which is listed in London on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) and has assets in Western Russia, were suspended several weeks ago pending completion of the company's audited accounts. The shares have lost 58 per cent of their value in the past year.

National Reserve Bank, owned by the Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, acquired its stake in the company having exercised its right to equity, which was pledged as collateral, when Timan was unable to repay an $18m (£11m) loan. National Reserve also bought a 13.88 per cent stake in the group from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, a long-term backer of Timan.

A source close to the talks said Timan's assets were among the most promising of all the small-cap exploration companies based in Russia, but the company had struggled to secure the necessary permits and licences from local authorities.

It has also been criticised for not raising enough money when it initially listed on Aim, forcing it to seek debt financing to fund exploration projects.