CEO of Russian shipping giant Sovcomflot to switch to chairman - sources

MOSCOW, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Sergei Frank will step down as president and chief executive of Russian state-controlled shipping giant Sovcomflot after 15 years at the helm, four sources familiar with the decision told Reuters on Tuesday.

Frank will give up operational control of Sovcomflot and take over as chairman of the company’s board, two of the sources said.

It was not immediately clear why Frank, 59, was moving position. A Sovcomflot spokesman referred requests for comment to the company’s controlling shareholder, the government.

A government spokesman said the state would issue information on a new board of directors “in the near future”.

In a government order published on Monday, Frank was named as a board member - not the director general - in the list of candidates to be on Sovcomflot’s board of directors, indirectly confirming his move from CEO.

Frank’s deputy, Igor Tonkovidov, is set to become the new CEO, sources said.

Frank has been at the helm of Sovcomflot, following a merger of several shipping companies in the late days of the Soviet Union, since October 2004.

In 1990s he worked in the Russian transportation ministry, which he headed from 1998-2004 before moving to Sovcomflot.

The government has considered a listing of Sovcomflot for years as part of broader privatisation plans, but obstacles ranging from weak markets to international sanctions placed on Russia over its role in Ukraine’s crisis have prevented an IPO. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Mark Potter)