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Russian manager set to lead Italian refinery even after sell-off

Rome pressured Russian energy company Lukoil to sell a crucial Italian refinery to a Cypriot fund. But even as the government greenlights the deal (with conditions), it looks like Russian citizens will remain in management

Meet Eugene Maniakhine. A Swiss-educated forty-year-old from St Petersburg, he has held various senior roles in several companies of the Russian energy group Lukoil group since 2008. The group’s top management deems him a trusty asset, enough to appoint him general manager of the ISAB refinery, a Sicilian operation controlled by Russian energy company Lukoil that is about to be sold off to Goi Energy, a Cypriot company.

  • This change in ownership was brought about as a reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Rome’s drive to loosen its ties with Moscow.
  • Nevertheless, as reported by Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr Maniakhine has just become CEO of the operation – and it looks like he’s not going anywhere.

A controlled takeover… Just last week, the government headed by Giorgia Meloni greenlit ISAb’s sell-off to Goi Energy. However, it wielded its special powers to impose twenty conditions to ensure the critical operation’s continued functioning.

  • These prescriptions require Goi to present a medium- and long-term plan, encompassing investments and the green transition strategy, so as to protect the thousands of Italian workers who staff the refinery that provides just under 22% of the nation’s petrol needs.

… with some Russian-shaped holes. However, other than maintaining ISAB’s employment levels for the next five years and its legal and operational headquarters in Italy, those same requirements specify that Goi must “guarantee the continuity of the management and its strengthening, also in view of the implementation of the green transition programme.”

  • That’s where Mr Maniakhine and his recent nomination to CEO (back in February) come in.
  • He has also made new hires, including Vera Pavolva, formerly the deputy consul in the Russian consulate of Palermo (Sicily’s county seat) and now head of the business development and optimisation division, in charge of the refinery’s green future.
  • Mr Maniakhine is flanked on the board of directors by ISAB’s General Affairs Manager Giancarlo Metastasio and Olexandr Butsan, Dutch but Ukrainian by birth, ISAB’s deputy general manager for administration, finance and control and formerly CFO at Lukoil Benelux.

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