MOSCOW, July 17 The Moscow city government may
boost its stake in oil firm Sibir Energy SBE.L, a deputy mayor
said on Friday, the same day that Sibir's stakeholder, Shalva
Chigirinsky, was summoned by Moscow police in a criminal probe.
"We will not sell our stake. But we may, if necessary, come
to an agreement to increase our stake. We will talk to Gazprom
Neft," Vladimir Silkin told reporters.
Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM), the oil arm of the world's largest
gas company Gazprom (GAZP.MM), has amassed a stake of just under
49 percent in mid-sized oil producer Sibir Energy in recent
months while the Moscow city government, which together with the
Bank of Moscow, holds a 19.3 percent stake.
Sibir became Gazprom Neft's acquisition target after
Chigirinsky, one of Sibir's main shareholder, was forced to put
up his stake as collateral with state bank Sberbank SBER03.MM
to meet obligations on Western loans.
Earlier on Friday Interfax news agency reported that
Chigirinsky, who fled from Russia this year, had been summoned
for questioning by Moscow police in connection with a probe into
alleged tax evasion.
Trading in Sibir's shares was suspended in February on
London's AIM after it was revealed that Chigirinsky's debt from
controversial property deals was higher than had previously been
"If the company will be public, we would be satisfied with
our 19.3 percent. If it will be delisted, we would need a
blocking stake," said the Moscow deputy mayor.
A so-called blocking stake of more than 25 percent gives a
shareholder the right to veto key strategic decisions.
Sibir has Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) as a partner in the
development of the Salym field in Siberia, and together with
Gazprom Neft controls Moscow Refinery, with a capacity of
200,000 barrels per day.
It is suing Chigirinsky for at least $325 million over a
failed bid to sell his real estate assets to the company
Last week Russia's law enforcement agencies searched the
offices of a firm belonging to Sibir Energy and the Moscow
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin;
Editing by Mike Nesbit)