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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

External Manager to Take Over at Sibur

In a legal coup for Gazprom, a Siberian judge on Monday appointed an external manager to oversee operations at Sibur, Russia's largest petrochemical holding.

The Salekhard Arbitration Court picked Mikhail Fomenkov, a Moscow-based lawyer, to put together a recovery plan that will stave off Sibur's bankruptcy. Last month, Gazprom filed a lawsuit to bankrupt Sibur, which owes the gas monopoly 28.9 billion rubles ($932 million).

"We are satisfied with the choice and expect Fomenkov to act in the interests of all creditors, not only Gazprom," said an official with the gas monopoly.

This appointment is the latest in a series of victories for Gazprom as it tries to gain control of its rogue subsidiary. In January, federal prosecutors opened a criminal case against Sibur's top managers at Gazprom's request. Former Sibur president Yakov Goldovsky and former vice president Yevgeny Koshchits -- who were taken into custody shortly after the case was opened -- remain in detention.

A Moscow court last week rejected an appeal for the release of Goldovsky and Koshchits, who were charged last month with colluding to illegally siphon off more than $80 million worth of Sibur's assets. Both men face maximum jail terms of five years if found guilty.

Fomenkov will take the helm of Sibur for one year, after which creditors will meet to decide the company's fate. Yelena Krasnitskaya, an analyst at Troika Dialog, expects Sibur to pay back its debt to Gazprom through its own shares. If Gazprom accepts payments on these terms, its stake in Sibur will increase from its current 51 percent.

According to analysts, Sibur has long been run as the personal fiefdom of its managers, who had close ties to former Gazprom CEO Rem Vyakhirev. Vyakhirev was ousted last year as part of President Vladimir Putin's initiative to stop the hemorrhaging of assets at Gazprom, 38 percent of which is owned by the government.

Since then, new CEO Alexei Miller has been on a drive to recover any assets funneled out of Gazprom during the 1990s.

Another hearing on Sibur's bankruptcy proceedings will be held April 26.