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Serbia probes sale of refining unit to Gazprom Neft

08.11.2014  | 

Serbia sealed the agreement to sell its only refiner amid a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine in late 2008 and early the following year. It sold a 51% stake in NIS to Gazprom Neft for 400 million euros ($536 million) in 2009, when the company had 993.8 million euros in capital.

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By GORDANA FILIPOVIC and MISHA SAVIC
Bloomberg

Serbia opened an investigation into the sale of Naftna Industrija Srbija to OAO Gazprom Neft five years after the government signed a 30-year energy pact with Russia that ceded control over its oil and gas market.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic “formed a special investigation team to examine all the facts and circumstances related to the privatization of Naftna Industrija Srbije,” his ministry said by e-mail. Novi Sad-based NIS referred all questions to the governments of Russia and Serbia. 

Gazprom Neft’s press service wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The sale is coming under scrutiny as Premier Aleksandar Vucic faces growing pressure from opposition parties to disclose details of contracts his government reached with investors from the United Arab Emirates since 2012, including a deal to transfer 49% in Air Serbia AD to Etihad Airways. Both NIS and Air Serbia are part of strategic partnership accords Serbia has with Russia and the UAE.

Serbia sealed the agreement to sell its only refiner amid a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine in late 2008 and early the following year. It sold a 51% stake in NIS to Gazprom Neft for 400 million euros ($536 million) in 2009, when the company had 993.8 million euros in capital. 

The sale also gave the oil-production arm of OAO Gazprom 51% in a local gas company in charge of South Stream construction through Serbia.

Gazprom Neft invested 500 million euros in NIS upgrades during the following three years.

The sale was approved by Premier Mirko Cvetkovic, whose ruling coalition in 2008-2012 included the Democratic Party of former President Boris Tadic and the Socialists of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.



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