A highly contentious takeover of a Lukoil plant in Italy by a Cypriot fund appears to be moving forward, with the latest media speculators picking on rumors that the leadership of the new operation might come from both Russian and Ukrainian stock.
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According to media reports, Rome has conditionally approved the sale of the Lukoil-owned ISAB refinery in Sicily to Cypriot private equity firm GOI Energy, backed by Greek and Israeli interests.
Even though Rome has asked GOI Energy to guarantee oil supplies from producing countries other than Russia, the terms also include other clauses that would 'guarantee the continuity of the management'
After Russia’s invasion into Ukraine last year, Lukoil said back in January that it had reached a preliminary deal to sell the refinery to GOI, setting Rome off to a balancing game amid security and financial concerns both on the old continent as well as across the Atlantic.
But little information has been shared about negotiations except occasional reports about resistance from Washington over worries the deal might keep Russian influence on Europe’s energy.
A Cypriot offer that outbid an American proposal at the last minute is reportedly moving forward, with new information added to the mix this week, as Italian reports suggest Russian national Eugene Maniakhine, who held various positions within Lukoil, could lead the new operation.
Maniakhine, a Swiss-educated businessman from St Petersburg, joined the Russian company in 2008 through positions in Holland and Switzerland. After becoming a financial deputy general manager for ISAB in 2018, he was promoted to General Manager late last year.
Even though Rome has asked GOI Energy to guarantee oil supplies from producing countries other than Russia, the terms also include other clauses that would allow current management to remain in place in order to “guarantee the continuity of the management.”
According to Il Sole 24 Ore, Maniakhine recently hired Vera Pavolva, a former Russian diplomat.
But there is also Ukrainian blood in the mix, with reports pointing out that Maniakhine is flanked by Ukraine-born Dutchman Olexandr Butsan, who also worked for Lukoil Benelux.