Transneft buys 10 percent of Novorossiisk Sea Port
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Pipeline firm Transneft (TRNF_p.MM) said it had bought 10 percent of Novorossiisk Commercial Sea Port (NMTP.MM), moving to increase its stake as it battles Summa Group for control of NCSP, whose ports handle most of Russia's oil exports.
"We confirm that a 10 percent stake in NCSP was bought in Transneft's interests," company spokesman Igor Dyomin said on Thursday, declining to comment further on financial details.
Transneft and Summa Group, which jointly own 50.1 percent of NCSP via Novoport Holding Ltd., have been at odds over how it is managed and its capital expenditure deployed.
NCSP operates the ports of Novorossiisk on the Black Sea and Primorsk on the Baltic Sea. Last year, Novorossiisk handled 42.5 million tones of oil and Primorsk 68.15 million tones, together more than half of crude exports from the world's top oil producer. <O/RUS1>
Transneft's purchase comes in advance of a plan by state property agency Rosimushchestvo to sell its 20 percent stake in NCSP as part of a broader privatization program.
Nikolai Tokarev, head of Transneft and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, has said his company wants to buy Summa's stake in NCSP.
Summa Group, an investment and trading company controlled by businessman Ziyavudin Magomedov, has said it is not considering selling its holding.
Earlier on Thursday, Vedomosti daily reported that Uralsib had bought a 10 percent stake at Transneft's request and said the market price valued it at $200 million.
A source close to the deal said that the stake was purchased on the open market for $300 million.
"Uralsib bought around 10 percent in Transneft's interests, with some 50 percent premium to the market, paying around $300 million" the source said.
Analysts at VTB Capital said they were cautious on the stock, given the lack of clarity over shareholder cooperation.
"We believe that the corporate governance risks around the control of the company remain in place and are unlikely to dissipate in the foreseeable future," VTB Capital said.
NSCP shares were down 2.9 percent at 3.3782 roubles.
According to NCSP data, Russian Railways owns another 5.3 percent, and 21.9 percent is held by minority shareholders or in free float.
(Editing by David Cowell and Jane Baird)
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