Ukraine dismisses head of energy company, risks unnerving investors

Ukraine dismisses head of energy company, risks unnerving investors

Ukraine’s government has dismissed the long-serving head of state-run oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy, threatening to complicate talks to access a $5.5 billion international bailout, Bloomberg reported.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal’s cabinet on Wednesday dismissed Andriy Kobolyev, Naftogaz’s chief executive officer since 2014, citing $684 million loss last year, according to a statement published on its website. Acting Energy Minister Yuriy Vitrenko was appointed as CEO.

The unexpected move risks unnerving western donors, including the International Monetary Fund, who have supported Kobolyev and have already been rattled by a raft of reformists departing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s two-year-old administration.

Kobolyev was the chief architect of an energy overhaul that helped the former Soviet nation to narrow its fiscal gap and he lead Ukraine to a multibillion-dollar win in legal dispute against Russia’s Gazprom in 2018. Domestically, he was criticized for gradual increases in heating costs.

The ousted CEO said on Facebook that he wasn’t aware of the dismissal and hadn’t stepped down. The company’s position is that the move violates the law on Naftogaz as well as wider corporate governance rules, Naftogaz spokeswoman Aliona Osmolovska said by phone.