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Kremlin mulling privatization options for oil

Giving up state control may help support an economy under pressure from lower oil prices.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 1, 2016 at 8:23 AM
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MOSCOW, March 1 (UPI) -- Russian investment consultants are being asked about the possible terms of privatization of parts of the state-controlled oil sector, a minister said Tuesday.

Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the potential exists to unload the entire government share in state oil company Bashneft.

"Such a possibility exists," he was quoted by state news agency Tass as saying. "Now we will select an investment consultant who will consult us on the market situation and possibilities for the sale."

Russia's private oil company Lukoil has emerged as a possible investor in a future Bashneft. The Russian news agency reports Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov may be eyeing as much as half of the company.

The Kremlin has been reviewing privatization options as the Russian economy risks lingering in recession because of the strains brought on by Western sanctions and low crude oil prices. Last week, Deputy Finance Minister Yuri Zubarev said privatizing state oil company Rosneft could bring in as much as $6.5 billion to the federal budget.

Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin asked the Kremlin last year to use a national welfare fund to support the growing debt for a company struggling under economic pressures.

"The Economic Development Ministry is dealing with this issue so as next year we can privatize part of Rosneft package," Zubarev said last week.

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