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Financial Times: Sibir shares hit record high: "Sibir said the cash would help fund the development of its main Siberian oil field, Salym, which is operated by Shell.": Saturday 10 December 2005


By Rebecca Bream
Published: December 10 2005

Shares in Sibir Energy rose to their highest level yesterday after a prominent Russian businessman invested $620m (354m) in the Aim-listed oil company.

Sibir said the cash would help fund the development of its main Siberian oil field, Salym, which is operated by Shell. Investors had expressed concerns that Sibir's 50 per cent share in the field could be diluted if it did not have the cash to fund the development.

The investment, by Igor Kesaev, whose Mercury Group distributes Phillip Morris cigarettes throughout Russia, could also speed up the return of Sibir's disputed share in the Sibneft Yugra oil joint venture, the group said.

Mr Kesaev, through his Orton Oil vehicle, has bought a 50 per cent stake in Bennfield, the company controlled by Chalva Tchigirinski, Sibir's largest shareholder. Mr Tchigirinski's stake in Sibir has fallen from 47 per cent to 30 per cent, the same as Mr Kesaev's interest, and Bennfield's stake in Sibir has risen from 47 per cent to 60 per cent.

Its shares closed up 33p at 401p yesterday.

Rebecca Bream

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