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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: China National Petroleum eyes $3bn stake in Rosneft

From The Financial Times:

By Joanna Chung in London and Sundeep Tucker in Hong Kong

Published: July 5 2006 03:00 | Last updated: July 5 2006 03:00

China National Petroleum Corp is considering buying a stake worth up to $3bn (£1.6bn) in the initial public offering of Russian oil giant Rosneft, as part of China’s strategy to improve access to Russia’s oil sector.

Rosneft, which hopes to raise $10bn-$11.7bn through listings in London and Moscow at the end of next week, is understood to have been in formal discussions with at least four oil companies.

The IPO, which would value Rosneft at up to $80bn, would be one of the world’s biggest.

People close to the talks said that the oil companies were offered the chance to buy stakes worth between $1bn and $2bn.

One person said that CNPC, one of China’s largest oil companies, “came back and said it would like to invest up to $3bn”.

Potential purchases by any oil group of a stake in Rosneft – which is billed as a Russian national champion – could offer political advantages in Russia. These companies are investing because they hope “it will lead to something in the future”, said a person familiar with the talks.

It is believed that CNPC is hoping for greater access to the oil industry in Russia, which has one of the world’s largest oil reserves. However, it is unclear whether there will be any agreement on future co-operation.

Petronas, Malaysia’s state oil company, has indicated that it is considering investing up to $2bn in the Rosneft IPO.

BP and Shell, the UK oil groups that have also been offered the chance to buy stakes in Rosneft, are understood to be still some way from a decision. They are thought to be cautious because they believe the flotation has been priced too aggressively.

Rosneft’s valuation has also been seen as too high by some institutional investors; in spite of the potential for long-term growth, they are concerned about legal risks relating to the acquisition of Rosneft’s main asset.

Most of Rosneft’s output and future growth comes from Yuganskneftegaz, which it bought in a controversial series of deals in 2004 after the forced break-up of Yukos, the private sector oil company built by jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Analysts said Russia’s energy companies urgently need investment, and it is easier to reach agreements with its Asian neighbours. CNPC and Rosneft refused to comment last night.

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