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Posts from ‘November, 2006’

Bloomberg Russians Mask Economy’s Weakness With Shopping, Building Frenzy

EXTRACT: In mid-November, government environmental inspectors vowed to revoke the licenses of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc to continue work on a Far East oil exploration venture called Sakhalin 2, in which Shell has a 55 percent stake. Iskyan says the government’s motive is to win a controlling stake in the project for itself.

Browder doesn’t think any amount of scandal will deter investors so long as Russia’s oil billions keep flowing. “People will ignore my visa, people will ignore Kozlov’s assassination, people will ignore Shell’s problems as long as the money supply is going up, as long as asset prices are going up,” Browder says.

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American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research: What Does Putin Want?

Leon Aron

(Leon Aron, resident scholar at AEI.)
  
EXTRACT: Putin’s statist ideology has also been felt by the main foreign investors in Russia’s oil sector. This past fall, the Kremlin halted or threatened to halt operations by Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, France’s Total, and the Russian-British TNK-BP. Notwithstanding official explanations for this move–from environmental violations to cost overruns to disappointing output–it is an open secret in Moscow that the government’s prime motive is to pressure the companies into either surrendering a share of production to the state or handing back their development licenses.
 
By Leon Aron
Publication Date: November 29, 2006
Leon Aron is a resident scholar at AEI.
 
“Is Russia Going Backward?” That was the question posed by the title of an article that I completed in late August 2004 and published in the October 2004 Commentary. My qualified answer was no. Having supported Russia’s democratic, free-market revolution at every critical juncture during more than a decade of upheaval–from the election of Boris Yeltsin as president of what was still Soviet Russia in June 1991 and the rejection of the hard-line coup two months later, to the referendum in March 1993, Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996, and the toppling of the Communist-led plurality in the Duma in 1999–the Russian people, I argued, were not turning their backs on the reforms they had stoically sustained. They were simply ready at last for the new Russian state to be strong enough to help them.

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The Miami Herald: FIRMS FINED FOR PRICE-FIXING RUBBER: EU cartel case: Royal Dutch Shell fined $211 million

Thu, Nov. 30, 2006

FLORIDA BUSINESS BRIEFS
From Miami Herald Staff and Wire Services

The European Commission fined five oil refiners and chemical producers about $682 million, saying they fixed the price of synthetic rubber used to make tires. A sixth company that had alerted authorities escaped a fine.

It was the second-largest fine ever in an EU cartel case. Italy’s Eni was ordered to pay the largest fine — $357.6 million — while Royal Dutch Shell was fined $211 million. Their fines were hiked by half for it being a repeat offense.

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Lloyds List: I spy with my little’: Russian secret services… infiltrating SAKHALIN Energy

Last Word

Published: Nov 30, 2006

SAKHALIN Energy has tightened its own security, apparently in a bid to prevent Russian secret services from infiltrating the organisation that is developing oil and gas fields off the nation’s east coast.

The Shell-led consortium has added new computer technology by installing spyware to protect laptops and office computers from the Big Brother state services.

Sources told Last Word that Sakhalin Energy employees fear they are being followed. Considering the government’s environmental agency is stepping up its investigation into the Sakhalin II project, many believe their concerns are not too far from the truth.

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Irish Times: Protesters ‘interrogated’locals, says superintendent: ‘Shell’s Corrib gas pipeline’: ‘co-ordinated campaign of intimidation’

By: Conor Lally, Irish Times
Published: Nov 30, 2006

The senior Garda officer in charge of policing the protest at Shell’s Corrib gas pipeline has said some protesters had established checkpoints on roadways in parts of Mayo at which they “interrogated” local people for up to 45 minutes before refusing passage to some.

Supt Joe Gannon also said gardaI have been assaulted by protesters and filmed on cameras while they have been out socialising with friends and family.

A “co-ordinated campaign of intimidation” had in many cases been directed at people with no involvement in the Shell project.

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Financial Times: REBEL INVESTORS AND THEIR TARGETS

Published: November 30 2006 02:00 | Last updated: November 30 2006 02:00

Nov 27 2006ASM International: Break-up vote by rebel shareholders is defeated.

Nov 14 2006 Stork refuses to implement shareholder-backed break-up of company.

Nov 6 2006 Ahold unveils own growth strategy, having spurned rebel investors’ break-up plan.

Sept 29 2006 Philips spins off semi-conductor unit after investor pressure.

Aug 23 2006 TNT sells logistics business after investor pressure. Nov 17 2005 VNU’s takeover of IMS Health foiled by investors, CEO goes.

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Financial Times: Dutch boards stand up to activist investors

EXTRACT: …Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy group, acknowledged that investor unrest was key to its decision to unwind its cumbersome century-old dual-headed governance structure.

THE ARTICLE

By Ian Bickerton in Amsterdam: Published: November 30 2006 02:00 | Last updated: November 30 2006 02:00

Activist investors have chalked up more than their share of triumphs in forcing change at Dutch companies in recent times. But now there are clues that the clog may be on the other foot.

The defeat this week of a shareholder motion to break up ASM International, a semiconductor group, came as management at both Stork, the industrial conglomerate, and Ahold, the food retailer, continued to dig their heels in to resist similar investor demands.

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Financial Times: EU fines synthetic rubber cartel €519m

By Tobias Buck in Brussels: Published: November 30 2006 02:00 | Last updated: November 30 2006 02:00

Chemical and energy groups including Shell, Dow, Eni and Bayer were yesterday punished for operating a price-fixing cartel in the market for synthetic rubber, a ruling that triggered the second highest fine yet imposed by the European Commission.

The six members of the cartel were fined a total of €519.1m ($682.4m), a sum bettered only by the €790.5m fine imposed on a vitamins cartel more than five years ago. Yesterday’s decision means 2006 will be a record year for cartel fines imposed by the Brussels regulator, taking the total to €1.84bn.

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Financial Times: Hambro Mining hit as Russia warnson licences: ‘Mr Mitvol… seen by some… as a maverick and publicity-seeker..’

By Rebecca Bream in London and Arkady Ostrovsky in Moscow: Published: November 30 2006 02:00 | Last updated: November 30 2006 02:00

Shares in Peter Hambro Mining, the London-listed, Russia-based gold producer, fell 14 per cent yesterday after a Russian government environmental watchdog threatened to revoke some of its mining licences.

Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of Rosprirodnadzor, the Russian natural resources ministry’s environmental watchdog, said he would check PHM’s gold production against its declared resources, as part of a crackdown on companies that do not develop projects fast enough.

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Financial Times: Western Oil seeks partner

By James Politi in New York Published: November 30 2006 02:00 | Last updated: November 30 2006 02:00

Western Oil Sands, the Canadian energy company, may be looking for a downstream partner to help it better exploit its main asset, a 20 per cent stake in the $5bn Athabasca oil-sands venture.

Western said it had hired engineering advisers and bankers at TD Securities and Goldman Sachs to help weigh “various initiatives and options, including downstream integration of Western’s oil sands resources”.

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AFX News Limited: Royal Dutch Shell plans ‘considerable’ investments in Bolivian gas sector-report

11.30.2006, 02:35 AM

AMSTERDAM (AFX) – Royal Dutch Shell is planning ‘considerable’ investments in the Bolivian gas sector, Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad reported, citing Bolivian energy minister Carlos Villegas Quiroga.

The oil major also intends to sell part of its 25 pct stake in Bolivian gas transport company Transredes back to the Bolivian state, the paper said, noting Shell officials will next week start negotiations with the Bolivian government on that issue.

It added that on Monday, Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer met Bolivian president Evo Morales, who was on a state visit to the Netherlands.

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The Independent: Hambro Mining shares rocked by Russian attack: ‘Oleg Mitvol’

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
Published: 30 November 2006

Shares in the AIM-listed Peter Hambro Mining plunged 14 per cent yesterday after a senior Russian government official questioned the legality and efficiency of the company’s activities in its sole area of operations.

Oleg Mitvol, the deputy head of Russia’s state environmental watchdog, said he had asked the government to strip Peter Hambro of two important exploration licences in north-eastern Russia.

He accused it of a litany of corporate and environmental failings, alleging that it was failing to exploit the opportunities it had been given. Shares of Peter Hambro fell 165p to 1,025p on his comments, prompting the company to rush out a statement dismissing what it called “media speculation”. Mr Mitvol’s criticism appeared to have taken the company and investors by surprise and comes at a time when British companies are facing more and more regulatory problems in Russia.

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