01 April 2002 00:00 [Source: ICB]
###10949###The boardroom battle for control of Sibur, Russia's largest petrochemical conglomerate, may be over, at least for the time being. Gas giant Gazprom has taken control of the board of management and scrapped a controversial share issue which would have reduced its shareholding in Sibur.
Gazprom chief Alexei Miller has been trying to regain control of Sibur and other ex-Gazprom holdings since his appointment in 2001. Shareholders alleged that previous Gazprom directors had sold off assets cheaply to colleagues. Then executives from Sibur bought large numbers of voting shares, causing Gazprom to temporarily lose its direct control, despite its 51% holding.
Gazprom has now installed its own deputy chief executive officer Alexander Ryazanov as Sibur's chairman and appointed Vyacheslav Skvortsov as the company's president. The number of board members has been reduced from 17 to nine, with five being Gazprom supporters.
In January 2002, several Sibur executives including the company's previous president, Yakov Goldovsky were jailed after Gazprom instigated an investigation into 'financial irregularities'.
Gazprom is also considering calling off a bankruptcy suit against Sibur which it began in February (ECN 18 February 2002). It wanted to regain large debts it claimed to be owed by Sibur. Ryazonov is reported to have said: 'It is possible that we will go ahead with an amicable agreement. Our main target is to restore the business of Sibur.'
Analysts have welcomed the moves, saying they will allow Sibur to continue operating while giving Gazprom the chance to recover the asset.
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