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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Rosneft set to cover $8.5bn IPO minimum

From The Financial Times
By Joanna Chung

Published: July 7 2006 03:00 | Last updated: July 7 2006 03:00

Sizeable orders from oil companies as strategic investors have helped Rosneft, the Russian oil group, attract enough demand to cover the minimum $8.5bn (£4.6bn) out of the total $10bn to $11.7bn it is seeking from its initial public offering.

A week away from its listing, China National Petroleum Corp and Petronas, the Malaysian state oil company, are thought to be the closest to taking stakes in Rosneft’s IPO. BP, Europe’s biggest energy group, is believed to be waiting for the other international strategic investors to emerge and further clarity on pricing before making a decision.

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil group, has been offered a stake of up to $2bn. Temasek, Singapore’s state investment agency, is also looking at the IPO, while ONGC, India’s largest oil company, and Sinopec, another large Chinese oil company, are also believed to be interested.

The flotation, which would value the group at up to $80bn, is one of the most contentious and largest offerings to come from Russia. In the past few weeks, the group has been drumming up support from international strategic investors by offering stakes worth up to $2bn in the IPO. It needs to raise at least $8.5bn in order to cover the $7.5bn of debt that Rosneftegaz, the state entity that owns Rosneft, raised last year to buy 10.7 per cent of Gazprom, and the $1bn of capital gains tax following the share sale.

Several sources close to the IPO said yesterday the order book stood at above the $8.5bn level. About $5bn of that has come from strategic investors, likely to be the oil companies.

Three strategic investors had given “firm”, though non-binding, expressions of interest, sources indicated. The rest of the orders so far are likely to be large fund managers, including emerging market specialists.

Some institutional investors have indicated that the shares were priced too aggressively, particularly given the potential legal risks stemming from the acquisition of Rosneft’s main asset, Yuganskneftegaz.

Rosneft, which has been on a roadshow in Scandinavia and the US, will meet with investors in Europe next week. The order book is expected to close by mid-week. The final pricing of shares is expected to be announced on Friday.

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