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2014-12-06 15:55:00

SISTEMA FELL: 35%

SISTEMA FELL: 35%

Shares in Vladimir Yevtushenkov's Sistema Group fell more than 35 per cent this week, amid growing concern that Russian investigators will try to reclaim Rbs140bn ($2.7bn) in dividends that the group has received from its oil company Bashneft .

In October, a Moscow court gave the Russian state permission to seize Bashneft from Sistema, on the grounds that Bashneft's 2003 privatisation was illegal. At the time of the ruling, the Moscow judge hearing the case did not suggest the state would also try to seize Bashneft's dividends. But, this week, the newswire Interfax quoted a source in Russian law enforcement who said prosecutors could choose to pursue Sistema for the money.

On Friday afternoon, Sistema's London-listed global depositary receipts closed the week down 29 per cent, at $3.52. They have lost more than 80 per cent of their value since Mr Yevtushenkov, Sistema's chairman and largest shareholder, was placed under house arrest on September 16.

Sistema made no comment on the report.

However, members of the Moscow's business community have expressed shock over the case brought against Sistema and its billionaire owner – and suggested that it has dealt a further blow to investor sentiment, at a time when Russia is also coping with economic sanctions, a plummeting rouble and a falling oil price.

Mr Yevtushenkov has been under house arrest since September 16 as part of a money laundering investigation into Bashneft. Sistema and Mr Yevtushenkov have denied any wrongdoing.

In a separate Bashneft case this week, a Moscow court ruled that the transfer of the Trebs and Titov oilfield in Russia's far north to a joint venture between Bashneft and Lukoil had also been illegal. This decision effectively strips Lukoil of its 25 per cent stake in the field, and returns 100 per cent ownership to Bashneft – in effect, the Russian state.

Trebs and Titov was one of the last major Russian oilfields put up for auction, and industry executives say that other companies, including Rosneft, were frustrated when Bashneft won the license in 2010.

The case against Bashneft and Lukoil was brought by Raila Inozemtseva, a 75-year-old who owns 10 shares in Bashneft.

At peak production, Trebs and Titov was due to produce 100,000 barrels of oil a day, or 5m tonnes a year, making it a relatively insignificant part of Lukoil's overall portfolio. However, analysts warned there was a risk that Lukoil may lose its investments in the project to date, which analysts at VTB Capital estimated at $360m.

ft.com

Tags: RUSSIA, BASHNEFT, SISTEMA, OIL, LUKOIL

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