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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gazprom Regains Control of Subsidiary

08-25-2008 - Kommersant - The Volga District Arbitration Court put on Friday to the lengthy conflict between Gazprom and the American billionaire Getty family for control over OAO Southern Oil Co. when it upheld the decision of Arbitration Court of Astrakhan Region annulling the 1999 Southern Oil share issue in favor of Christopher Getty’s JPM Partners, in which Gazprom lost its controlling package in the company. Gazprom has been seeking that result in court since May 2007. The court found that the shares were sold at a reduced price and the majority shareholder was not properly informed of the sale. Southern Oil Co. was founded in 1995 to develop the Verblyuzhye field, which has proven reserves of 17.5 million tons of oil. Astrakhangazprom (later renamed Gazprom Dobycha Astrakhan) had 79 percent of its authorized capital, and the Volga-Caspian Banking Corp., OOO Radon and Astrakhan Oil and Gas Production Expedition each had 7 percent. JPM Partners LDC was made a partner through a stock issue that lowered Astrakhangazprom’s share to 42 percent. JPM Partners claims that it invested $12.8 million in the company between February 2000 and June 2007. The filed provided unexpectedly low grade oil, however, that JPM Partners was unable to sell. In 2005, Astrakhangazprom petitioned the Federal Financial Markets Service for an audit of the stock issue, which uncovered irregularities. This is not the first asset that the Getty family has had to return to Gazprom. A similar situation arose in 2003 and 2004 with ZAO Stimul, which was founded in 1993 by Orenburggazprom (51%) and the U.S. company Avalon International (49%). The Getty family’s Victory Oil Co. received 61.8 percent of the company through a stock issue in 2000. When the U.S. company put a controlling package in the company up for auction in 2003 and the Chinese CNPC won it for $200 million, Gazprom, which had bid $80 million successfully disputed the stock issue.

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