Gold miner Petropavlovsk has raised doubts over the true identity of a shareholder that is trying to oust its board.
Earlier in the week, 4.6% shareholder CABS Platform Ltd revealed that its legal registered shareholder was Cyprus-registered holding company Patia Trading Ltd, whose sole owner was said to be Olena Dorati, with no further information given on the identity given.
Petropavlovsk, who said that it understood Patia holds the shares
in CABS on trust for ultimate unrelated beneficiaries, on Friday said it received a letter from CABS explaining that the ownership Patia was divided into 20% interests, held by Evgeny Khata, Viktoriya Grynova, Erika Gordisheva, Yulia Mangusheva and Mikhail Volkov.
The company said on Friday that it "does not believe these individuals are the ultimate owners behind CABS", that the letter "seems to be yet another veil of secrecy" and that the board "continues to be mystified by the extraordinary lengths at which the requisitioners are going to conceal the true source of control behind these offshore shell vehicles that invested only three months ago".
This followed a letter apparently issued on Tuesday by a group of 59 senior managers at POG's operations in Russia calling for the company's board to resign. According to press reports, the letter said that "for almost a year now the Petropavlovsk Group has been operating without strategic management", that POG has been losing key personnel, and that the situation is "becoming critical".
Ahead of an annual shareholder meeting on 29 June, Petropavlovsk, known by its POG ticker code, intends to continue investigating the identity of the true beneficial owners.
Yuen Low, analyst at Shore Capital, was intrigued by what he has characterised as a Russia-set Game of Thrones saga: "Interestingly, Ms Grynova and a Mr Nikolai Lioustiger have limited powers of attorney to represent CABS but not to make decisions on its behalf without prior approval. Apparently, the letter did not make clear who would be able to give any required approvals."
Joining up with another shareholder Slevin Ltd, owned by Redland Capital as the legal and beneficial ownership of the shares of Liechtenstein-registered Lacetti Foundation, to form a block with a 9.1% voting stake CABS in May issued a requisition notice to remove all POG directors and replace them with former company directors Pavel Maslovskiy, Roderic Lyne and Robert Jenkins.
Petropavlovsk on Tuesday highlighted the "extraordinary lengths" taken to hide the identity of beneficial owners from other shareholders and said it assumes there are "material" reasons for doing so.
In response to the letter from senior managers POG's board defended CEO Roman Deniskin, who having been appointed to the post on April 16th, 2018, "has had barely six weeks to deliver any results". The board filled the CEO vacancy following an "extensive search process" caused by the abrupt resignation of co-founder Maslovskiy in July last year and this appointment was apparently made "after discussions with largest shareholder, Kenges Rakishev", who owns 22.4% of POG and earlier this year publicly backed a return for Maslovskiy.
As of 1035 BST, Petropavlovsk PLC's shares were up 7.32% at 7.62p.