Long-serving former president and founder of Russian top privately held oil producer Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov, has promised to finance social projects in the country after announcing his resignation from the company last week.
Alekperov has been quoted by Russian agency Interfax as saying that he has resolved to distance himself from Lukoil after being personally sanctioned in the UK and Australia, with his assets in these countries to be frozen.
“I hold no control interest in the oil producer”, he said.
Lukoil may continue growing its business without involvement from his side, he added.
According to the most recent disclosures by the company, Alekperov remains the single largest shareholder in Lukoil, holding a combined stake of over 28% directly and indirectly, followed by his close associate, company’s vice president Leonid Fedun, with about 10%.
Based on Lukoil’s market capitalisation this week, Alekperov’s stake was worth about 771 billion rubles (US$10 billion), almost half of its value since 24 February when the Russian military crossed into Ukraine.
Alekperov added that he would remain in Russia because he is a “patriot of the country".
Alekperov, who is now 72, had been running Lukoil since it was founded in 1993 on the basis of three large oil producing units in West Siberia – Langepasneftegaz, Urayneftegaz and Kogalymneftegaz.
Lukoil said in a statement that the company’s vice president, Vadim Vorobyev, has been appointed ad-hoc president of the oil producer until 30 May, when the company is due to hold an emergency general shareholders meeting to elect a new head.
Though the oil company in March called for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine, Alekperov personally commemorated members of the Russian Olympics ski team in April who expressed their public support to the Russian invasion – officially described in Moscow as a “special operation”, and not a war.
Compared with other major Russian oil producers, Lukoil has the largest international exposure, with upstream projects ranging from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Africa and Mexico.
The company has yet to make any assessment on the impact of wide ranging western sanctions on its business model that calls for the gradual expansion of its upstream exposure outside the country, with the focus in natural gas projects.
However, according to a Russian law adopted last week, the oil producer will have to delist its stock – traded internationally – by 5 May.
Lukoil may opt to apply to the Government Commission on Control over Foreign Investments for an exemption from the law, according to international consulting house Morgan Lewis.
Russian authorities have imposed strict limits on the information that oil producers can disclose to their minority investors, with Lukoil’s compatriot - the country’s largest independent gas producer Novatek - already announcing that it would not publish its first quarter financial report and hold a traditional conference call.
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