Putin celebrates as Qatar wealth fund and Glencore buy $11bn Rosneft stake

PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin took to the TV airways yesterday to celebrate the news that the commodity trader Glencore and Qatar’s QIA sovereign wealth fund – Glencore’s largest shareholders – had agreed to buy Moscow’s 19.5% stake in the state-run Rosneft oil giant for a figure Putin put at $11bn, boosted by what he described as “the rising trend in oil prices.”
The transaction was so big that Putin specifically asked Sechin to work with the Finance Ministry and central bank to ensure that it did not destabilize the currency market when the proceeds were converted into roubles. The rouble gained against the dollar in late trading after the deal was announced. and shares in Rosneft jumped by 6.4% on the news.
Glencore Chief Executive Officer Ivan GlasenbergPutin haled the surprise deal as the “largest acquisitions in the oil and gas sector in the world in 2016.” It is certainly the biggest foreign investment in Russia since the crisis in Ukraine and comes little more than a year after Glencore Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg had to go cap in hand to his shareholders for a cash injection. Qatar’s involvement also marks a rare venture of an OPEC member into the Russian energy sector.
Putin was joined on air by his long-term ally and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin who thanked the President for his part in brokering the deal which, he said, only “became possible thanks to your personal contribution,…..the negotiated price is in our view the maximum possible with the minimum discount of 5% to market prices.” Financing will be provided by “one of the largest European banks,” he added, without specifying which one.
Putin and UlyukaevThe deal comes at the end of an eventful few weeks for Russia’s privatisation programme which has seen Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukaev dismissed and put under house arrest, accused of taking a bribe to end his objections to Rosneft taking part in the privatisation of Bashneft; and Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev announcing that hundreds of SMEs were likely to put up for sale next year as Moscow scrambles to raise cash to fill its $21bn budget deficit.
The new deal will go a long way to reducing that debt, but with Rosneft and Sechin himself subject to the sanctions imposed by the West after the annexation of Ukraine, Glencore announced that it would be “fully ring-fenced” from exposure to the Russian state company, apart from a 0.54% “indirect equity interest.”
Russia will retain a controlling stake in Rosneft after the deal, while BP owns a further 19.75% stake in the company.

Source: Bloomberg