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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vote Clears Chernogorneft’s Return to Sidanko

The feud between two Russian oil giants for control of a key production unit inched closer to resolution in London on Tuesday.

Foreign creditors of bankrupted Uneximbank voted overwhelmingly to give a blocking stake in No. 7 oil major Sidanko to No. 5 oil major Tyumen Oil Co., or TNK, in exchange for Sidanko getting back Chernogorneft, its core production unit.

Sidanko was outraged after TNK bought Chernogorneft for $176 million in a controversial bankruptcy auction last November that was heatedly contested by Sidanko’s Western shareholder, British Petroleum.

Chernogorneft is active on the giant Samotlor oil field in western Siberia, where it produces 6 million tons a year. Without it, Sidanko’s production output dropped almost twofold.

BP, which holds 10 percent of Sidanko, cried foul after the Chernogorneft sale, calling it illegal.

Last December, Interros and the other Sidanko shareholders offered TNK shareholders a share emission that would give TNK a 25 percent plus one share in Sidanko in exchange for getting Chernogorneft back debt free.

But Vladimir Potanin’s financial group Interros, which owns 44 percent of Sidanko, had 38 percent pledged to former shareholders of Uneximbank as part of Uneximbank’s restructuring deal.

The Uneximbank creditors who gathered in London voted 95 percent in support of the emission, an Interros official said.

Approval for the emission was a key issue for TNK shareholders Alfa Group and Access/Renova.

"This was the final legal obstacle," said Dmitry Ushakov, general director of Interros holding and head of Sidanko’s board of directors, in a telephone interview Tuesday. "This will legally confirm Sidanko’s shareholders’ decision on the share emission."

TNK spokesman Vladimir Bobylev said by telephone that now that no legal obstacle remains, the transfer of Chernogorneft should proceed according to the scheme agreed upon last December.

NIKoil analyst Gennady Krasovsky said the return of Chernogorneft could double Sidanko’s current capitalization of about $800 million. "Next year we may well see the company going public," he said.