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Novatek Jumps as Mikhelson, Timchenko Gain Option to Buy Shares

OAO Novatek Chief Executive Officer Leonid Mikhelson and board member Gennady Timchenko gained an option to buy a 9.4 percent stake in the company. Shares rose to the highest in almost six years.

The two men, both already shareholders, have the right within two years to acquire the stake from a OAO Gazprombank investment vehicle, Tarko-Sale, Russia-based Novatek said today in a statement. Gazprombank’s entity bought the stock yesterday from OAO Gazprom, Russia’s export monopoly.

Novatek, the country’s second-biggest natural-gas producer, jumped 2.4 percent to 313.44 rubles in Moscow, the highest level since January 27, 2005. The 285.5 million shares that Timchenko and Mikhelson may buy through an equally owned unit, Hibridge Ventures Ltd., had a value of 89.5 billion rubles ($2.9 billion), based on today’s share price.

Gazprom reduced its stake in the smaller gas producer to 10 percent after selling the Novatek stake to Gazprombank’s Dhignfinolhu Holding Ltd.

Mikhelson and Timchenko, the Russian businessman who co-founded energy trader Gunvor International BV, may offer the shares to “major” investors or list them on Russia’s stock exchanges, Interfax reported today, citing the Novatek CEO. The two men don’t plan to significantly increase their holdings, the Moscow-based news agency said, citing both men.

Volga Resources SICAV SIF SA, Timchenko’s investment fund, holds 23.13 percent of Novatek. It gained antitrust approval to buy as much as 23.49 percent of the gas producer last year. Mikhail Lozovoy, a Novatek spokesman, declined to reveal Mikhelson’s stake. Gazprom doesn’t plan to cut its stake below 10 percent, Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said on Nov. 13.

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