UPDATE 1-Timchenko's fund becomes largest Novatek owner

Fri Mar 5, 2010 3:29pm GMT

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* Raises Novatek stake to 20.77 pct

* Surpasses Gazprom as largest shareholder

* Acquisition price not disclosed

* Anti-trust clearance to raise stake to 23.49 pct

(Adds details, background)

MOSCOW, March 5 (Reuters) - Volga Resources, the fund controlled by oil trader Gennady Timchenko, on Friday surpassed Gazprom (GAZP.MM) as the largest shareholder in Russian natural gas firm Novatek NOTK.MM after raising its stake to 20.77 percent.

Luxembourg-based Volga Resources said in a statement it had acquired an additional 2.57 percent stake in Novatek, Russia's largest independent gas producer, to raise its ownership from 18.20 percent. It did not disclose the price paid for the stake.

Timchenko, a co-owner of major oil trading company Gunvor, has expanded his interests in the Russian energy sector with a number of recent purchases.

Volga Resources this week agreed to buy 25 percent of oil services company Geotech Oil Services for an undisclosed sum. Geotech operates in several Russian regions and is among the world's largest onshore seismic service providers. [ID:nLDE6221H8]

Volga Resources said in Friday's statement it had Russian anti-trust clearance to increase its stake in Novatek to as much as 23.49 percent.

Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly, owns 19.4 percent of Novatek, its nearest rival in terms of natural gas output. (Reporting by Robin Paxton; Editing by David Holmes)

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