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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

External Management Imposed on Chernogorneft

A court ruled Thursday to impose external management on Chernogorneft, the main production unit of oil major Sidanko.

The beleaguered oil giant said it would pay off Chernogorneft's debts and appeal the decision by the Khanty-Mansi regional arbitration court. According to analysts and Sidanko executives, the attack on Chernogorneft was instigated by Sidanko's competitors trying to capitalize on the company's woes.

The court decision came as part of bankruptcy proceedings against Chernogorneft, started earlier this year by a creditor firm called Poly Plastic. Oleg Sapozhnikov, an aide to Sidanko's president, said, however, that the proceedings went against the interests of major foreign creditors, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and U.S. Eximbank.

The two foreign investors, who reportedly hold 60 percent of Chernogorneft's $133 million total debt, were not included on the list of creditors who stand to benefit from Chernogorneft's possible bankruptcy.

Representatives of the two creditors would not comment on the bankruptcy process Thursday.

Apart from the foreign creditors' situation, Sapozhnikov said the court had failed to take into account Sidanko's attempts to repay Chernogorneft's debts. He added that Sidanko had transferred 400 million rubles ($20 million) last week to some of Chernogorneft's creditors.

Alexander Ustinov, a spokesman for Chernogorneft, said Thursday that Chernogorneft's total debt to domestic creditors was around 800 million rubles.

Chernogorneft, which employs about 10,000 workers, is basically a sound company, analysts say, but it is prevented from being profitable by the insolvency of most of its local customers.

Some analysts have suggested that Sidanko's competitors, such as the Tyumen Oil Co., whose oil fields lie adjacent to Chernogorneft's, may be behind the bankruptcy proceedings. Tyumen Oil has denied this.

Sidanko, which is owned by Interros group, headed by Vladimir Potanin, has faced problems on many fronts recently as it lost control over its biggest refinery near Irkutsk and saw bankruptcy proceedings initiated against another production unit, Kondpetroleum.

Sidanko is 10 percent owned by British Petroleum.