Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 103

The government is to try again to raise money by selling Rosneft, the last major Russian oil company still in state ownership. Its first attempt to sell the company fell through when, on May 26, potential buyers refused to bid on the grounds that the government had set too high a price. Yesterday, Prime Minister Kirienko said he would announce the terms of a new tender by June 1. The stake in the company–75 percent of the shares plus one–will remain the same, as will the terms of the sale, but the starting price will be lowered to take account of falling world oil prices, Kirienko said. First Deputy Minister of State Property Aleksandr Braverman said the size of the initial deposit might also be lowered. Bids will be invited by June 16 or 17, Braverman added. The new price is expected to be closer to the US$1.6 billion-$1.7 billion originally recommended by Kleinwort Benson when it priced the firm for the government earlier this year (before the steep fall in world oil prices). Keen to get as much money as it could, the government subsequently hiked the price to $2.1 billion. (Russian agencies, May 27 and 28)

Two of the three consortiums originally set up to bid for Rosneft have already issued statements that they remain interested and will put in a bid if the price is right. One is the Gazprom, LUKoil and Royal Dutch/Shell consortium; the other is that set up by Oneksimbank and British Petroleum. LUKoil’s Alekperov and Oneksimbank’s Potanin, who signed a strategic partnership agreement earlier in the week, said it did not affect their interest in Rosneft for which, they said, they would be bidding separately. (Izvestia, May 28) Also expressing interest yesterday was Russia’s Sibneft oil company, which said it planned to bid for Rosneft “together with a foreign partner.” There was speculation that the partner was France’s Elf Aquitaine. (Russian agencies, May 28)