By Tom Bergin
LONDON, April 11 Maxim Barsky, the high-flying
executive who quit BP's Russian joint venture in frustration at
not being given its top job, is planning a comeback by buying
into minnow Matra Petroleum and building it into a
multi-billion dollar business.
The 38-year-old Russian is hoping to follow in the footsteps
of former BP boss Tony Hayward, who established bid
vehicle Vallares with financier Nathaniel Rothschild after he
left BP in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Vallares bought Kurdistan-focused Genel Energy and is now
worth $2.4 billion, while the shares Hayward received as part of
the deal are worth millions of pounds.
Barsky is buying a 29.8 percent stake in Russia-focused
Matra for 4.6 million pounds ($7.3 million), the company said on
Subject to the approval of Matra's shareholders, he will buy
shares at 0.8 pence apiece, below Tuesday's closing price of
1.14 pence, and meaning he could make an immediate profit.
Barsky's main contribution to the group will be to help find
acquisition targets and to bring in funding from Russian and
other sources to fund deals, Matra Managing Director Peter Hind
told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Barsky left his role as deputy chief executive and CEO
designate at TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil producer, in
October, after BP and its Russian oligarch partners declined to
elevate him to the top job.
Barsky told Reuters on Wednesday he was seeking to replicate
his success at Western Siberian Resources, another
Russia-focused oil producer, which he led through rapid growth
from 2004 until 2008, when it merged with Alliance Oil Company
in a $2.5 billion deal.
He will initially look for acquisition targets in Russia, in
areas such as Orenburg and the Timan-Pechora region, he said,
adding the group would look overseas as well, including at
targets in Latin America and East Africa.
"I do not think it is possible in Russia to build a
significant independent player, mainly because of the taxation,"
he said in a telephone interview.
Matra has agreed to issue Barsky warrants to subscribe for
new shares at an exercise price of 1.3 pence apiece if he
introduces a suitable acquisition target to the firm in the next
The warrants would entitle Barsky to 5 percent of any new
shares Matra issues to make the acquisition.
Matra shares were down 12 percent at 0.98 pence in
mid-morning trade. Matra said the issue price of Barsky's stock
reflected the fact the deal was negotiated before a recent
run-up in the shares.
The deal would make Barsky Matra's largest shareholder ahead
of Israel's Delek International Energy, which currently holds
29.3 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Delek was not immediately available to comment.
Barsky will be invited to join the board of Matra as a