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Bloomberg: Imperial Energy Says Gazprom Unit Bid for 25% Stake (Update2)

By Greg Walters

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) — OAO Gazprombank, the banking arm of Russia’s state-owned natural-gas producer OAO Gazprom, bid for as much as 25 percent of Imperial Energy Plc’s shares.

Gazprombank offered to buy new Imperial stock at a discount to the share price on Nov. 1, the London-based oil explorer said today in a statement distributed by the Regulatory News Service. The Russian company, in an e-mailed response to questions, said the investment would be “financial” and it didn’t seek control.

Imperial, accused by Russia of overstating its oil reserves, said it is reviewing the offer and that there was “no certainty” it will agree. Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry has called Imperial’s reserves “significantly inflated.”

“Gazprombank is indeed considering the possibility of acquiring a non-blocking stake in Imperial Energy,” Andrei Serov, Gazprombank spokesman, said in the statement to Bloomberg News. “This option is being considered in the context of our financial investments. Gazprombank is not seeking control over Imperial Energy.”

Shares in Imperial Energy fell 32 pence, or 2.2 percent, to 1,449 pence in London as of 11:21 a.m. local time. That’s 7.1 percent above its closing price on Nov. 1 of 1,353 pence.

Oleg Mitvol, the deputy head of Russia’s environmental inspectorate who chastised Royal Dutch Shell Plc over environmental practices at its Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project off Russia’s Pacific coast, has been a vocal critic of Imperial’s reserves claims. Shell agreed to sell a majority stake in Sakhalin-2 to Gazprom in December following Mitvol’s campaign.

Imperial’s shares jumped 15 percent on Nov. 5 following a report in the Sunday Times that Gazprom had bid for the company. Imperial said on Nov. 1 it had received an offer for up to 25 percent of shares without saying who made the bid.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Walters in Moscow at [email protected]

Last Updated: November 7, 2007 06:32 EST

 

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