Ukrainian Billionaires Bilking Investors on Energy Asset?

Ukrainian billionaires Henadiy Boholyubov and Ihor Kolomoyskyy are involved in a lawsuit recently brought by  Austrian Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG against Ukraine’s largest oil company Ukrnafta for nonpayment of dividends. Boholyubov and Kolomoyskyy through their Privat holdings control a 42% stake in the energy company, but according to one analyst “effectively control the oil company through loyal management.”

The Austrian bank, which has significant investments across Eastern Europe, filed a lawsuit with the Commercial Court of the city of Kyiv in April demanding that Ukrnafta pay them a dividend in the amount of UAH 3.164mn.

Claims have also been presented to Ukrnafta by Kazimir Partners Investment Fund represented by Kazimir Ukraine Convergence Fund Limited for the dividends payout for 2005 amounting to UAH 7.6mn.

Analysts at research firm Millenium Capital write, “We see this news as negative. Information that the dividends were not paid to all shareholders confirms, once again, the lack of transparency in the management of the company.”

Back in January it was reported that Ukrnafta’s shareholders decided to pay 5.08 billion hryvnias, or $635.8 million, in dividends for 2006-2008. The government, which owns a majority stake in UkrNafta, was unable to recover its share of dividends due to a shareholder conflict with Privat’s owners who had been said to be resisting the government’s attempts to hold a shareholder meeting amid fears that the management would be reshuffled. Prior to the presidential elections, then Prime Minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko had said she would return control over Ukrnafta from Privat back to the government if she won.

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