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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nafta Moskva Secures Transneft Investment

One of Russia's biggest oil trading firms has launched a plan to fix its shaky financial foundations by securing one of Russia's biggest companies - state-owned oil pipeline monopoly Transneft - as a strategic investor.

Transneft affiliate Trading House Transneft has bought a 25 percent stake in Nafta Moskva for an undisclosed sum from legal entities close to the oil trading firm, a Nafta Moskva spokesman said.

The oil trader - which exported 27 million metric tons of crude and oil products in 1998 - has been in dire need of cash ever since last fall's banking collapse froze roughly $250 million of its export revenues in several banks, according to Nafta Moskva's press service.

Trading House Transneft's purchase of Nafta Moskva shares went forward with the approval of Surgutneftegaz, Russia's second-biggest oil producer and a major shareholder in Nafta Moskva with a roughly 15 percent stake.

Several unidentified legal entities retain the largest stake in Nafta Moskva, controlling about a 40 percent share of the company. While, the government also has its 20 percent stake shared between the State Property Ministry and the State Property Fund.

Rising tycoon Suleyman Kirimov played a major role in Trading House Transneft's purchase of the 25 percent stake, according to former Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Generalov.

Nafta Moskva's press service denied that Kirimov had any legal relation to the stock sale.

Kirimov has since been tapped as adviser to acting general director and former oil trader Oleg Gubanov, Nafta Moskva's press service said.

He secured the post at Nafta Moskva due to his experience as deputy director of the International Institute of Corporations on International Relations, an organization run by the State Management Academy.

Kirimov has interests at mid-level Federal Industry Bank as well as at Vnukovo Airlines, one of Russia's major domestic air carriers, Generalov said.

Meanwhile Gubanov is expected to be confirmed as general director at an extraordinary shareholders meeting that the board has tentatively scheduled for June 16.

A vote on Gubanov's status was not on the agenda at the company's annual general meeting last Friday. However, the meeting did elect a chairman of the 11-member board of directors, Nafta Moskva financial director Stanislav Bozhevsky.

Descended from Soviet state oil trading giant Soyuznefteexport, Nafta Moskva exported the bulk of the crude and oil products it handled last year outside of the Commonwealth of Independent States, sending 24.4 million metric tons of the 160 million metric tons of Russian oil exported to such destinations, compared to about 2.6 million tons of oil that went to destinations within the CIS.

About 85 percent to 90 percent of Surgutneftegaz's exports are handled by Nafta Moskva, Surgutneftegaz President Vladimir Bogdanov said recently. Other major Nafta Moskva clients include Tatneft, Bashneft and Polar Lights - a joint venture between U.S. oil firm Conoco, Rosneft and Arkhangelskgeoldobycha, a northern producer controlled by LUKoil.

Speaking at a recent news conference in the Western SIberian city of Surgut, Bogdanov said he could not exclude the possibility that Surgutneftegaz might increase its stake in Nafta Moskva's charter capital through a share emission.

Alternatively, Surgutneftegaz could divest itself all together of its financial stake in the oil trader by swapping its 15 percent stake for a controlling stake in Nafta Moskva's Finnish subsidiary Teboil, Petroleum Argus reported recently.