Glencore, Qatari Fund Buy 19.5 % in Russia’s Rosneft

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MOSCOW (AP) — Commodities giant Glencore and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund have together acquired a 19.5 percent stake in Russia’s top state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, in a deal worth 10.5 billion euros ($11.3 billion), officials said Wednesday.

The long-planned sale is part of the Russian government’s efforts to sell some state assets to help balance the budget amid a two-year recession.

President Vladimir Putin described the deal as the largest in the global energy market this year. Speaking at a televised meeting with Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, he noted that the deal follows a rally in global oil prices following OPEC’s decision to cut production. “It’s a very good achievement,” Putin said.

Russia has agreed to cut its output in sync with OPEC, and will attend a meeting with the cartel members on Saturday to discuss specifics.

The state will retain a controlling stake in Rosneft, 49 percent of which now belongs to private investors. BP already owns 19.75 percent of Rosneft.

Putin noted that the deal should help improve transparency and corporate governance at Rosneft and boost its capital buffers.

Prior to the privatization deal, Rosneft bought the Russian oil company Bashneft, one of the nation’s most efficient crude producers. October’s deal cemented Rosneft’s role as the nation’s largest oil producer.

Sechin reported to Putin that the “strategic” deal envisages the creation of a joint venture between Rosneft and the consortium comprised of Glencore and Qatar’s fund, as well as a long-term contract with Glencore for future crude supplies. He said that Glencore and the Qatari fund have equal stakes in the consortium.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Putin ordered Rosneft to work together with the finance ministry and the central bank to prevent the deal from destabilizing Russia’s currency markets. The deal would see a big influx of foreign money, potentially raising the value of the ruble.

Sechin, a key associate of Putin for more than two decades, is believed to wield influence that’s second only to the Russian leader. The latest deals will further increase his clout.

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