Kazakh Oil Firm Tightens Control on UK Unit

The state oil company of Kazakhstan has tightened its grip on its UK based unit over opposition from some of its independent directors and has set up a further boardroom battle at another London based Kazakh oil firm.

KazMunaiGas, a national company which is fully owned by the Kazakh state called an extraordinary general meeting on Friday to go over its relationship agreement with KazMunaiGas Exploration Production, the London based subsidiary which it holds a 63% stake in.

The firm also offered to buy out and minority shareholders who were not happy with the changes that were enforces.

KMG EP’s independent directors said that they would offer their resignations if the proposals got the green light and argued that they would massively weaken the protections given to independent shareholders.

The strife between the Kazakh oil firm and its subsidiary is reminiscent of the long running tussle between mining company Eurasia Natural Resources Corporation and its independent directors from the UK.

In 2013, ENRC left the London market under a could of corruption allegations and boardroom battles, which dealt a sizeable blow to the international reputation of Kazakhstan.

This latest battle will be a major test of the country’s approach to investors from abroad as it prepares for a programme of ambitious privatisation.

The central Asian country announced plans last year to float minority stakes in some of its biggest firms, which include NC KMG.

The relationship agreements between the Kazakh oil firm and its subsidiary was introduced to protect minority shareholders when KMG EP listed 10 years ago and gave substantial power to the three independent directors of the firm.

NC KMG is now arguing that further alterations to the agreement will be necessary in order to reduce bureaucracy and bring in plans that will make the operations of KMG EP more efficient.

The proposed alterations would have to be approved by at least half of the minority shareholders who vote at the EGM on August 3.


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BDC 299 December 2022