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Kremlin could release share in oil company

The acquisition of government stake in oil company Bashneft required to close by Saturday.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Kremlin could release share in oil company
Igor Sechin, the head of Russia's largest oil company, could hold sway over a smaller rival by the end of the business day, Russian media reports. Photo courtesy of Rosneft

MOSCOW, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Russian media reports oil company Rosneft could close on its deal to purchase its smaller rival, Bashneft, at some point on Wednesday.

"Russian oil giant Rosneft plans to close the deal on purchasing Bashneft later on Wednesday," news agency Tass reported. "According to a source, Rosneft Vice President Andrey Shishkin will be offered the post of Bashneft president."

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The Kremlin last week signed off on a deal for Rosneft to buy the government's controlling stake in Bashneft for no more than $5.3 billion. Rosneft is the country's largest oil producer and remains controlled in part by the government.

Last week's order said the deal must be closed before Saturday. According to Russian media reports during the weekend, Rosneft was the only company with a legally-binding offer.

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Neither company published a statement referencing the arrangement.

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. In March, finance officials said privatizing state oil companies could bring in billions of dollars to the federal budget.

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an executive order in May that allowed for the sale of the first 50 percent stake of oil company Bashneft. Rosneft is controlled by Igor Sechin, a long-time ally of the president.

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Russian Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said last month Rosneft is on pace to become a private enterprise by the end of the year. That could bring in up to $6.5 billion to a federal budget struggling under the strains of lower crude oil prices.

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