Russia could privatise Rosneft stake this year - paper

MOSCOW Fri May 16, 2014 2:02am EDT

MOSCOW May 16 (Reuters) - Russia could privatise a 19.5 percent stake in top oil producer Rosneft this year or in 2015, earlier than planned, Russia's Vedomosti newspaper quoted government sources as saying on Friday.

The state owns 69.5 percent of Rosneft, the world's largest listed oil company by production, but it eventually plans to reduce its shareholding to 50 percent plus one share. Rosneft's chief executive, Igor Sechin, is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Russia had been planning the sale of a stake in the company in 2016 but Vedomosti cited two government sources saying that 19.5 percent minus one share could be sold as early as this autumn, or in 2015.

The sources said that a decision on the timing and size of any sale would depend on advice from an investment bank which had yet to be appointed. A 19.5 percent stake would be worth 469.1 billion roubles ($13.5 billion) at current market values.

Vedomosti did not give a reason for bringing the privatisation forward.

Rosneft declined immediate comment to Reuters.

Analysts cited by the paper said that present market conditions were unfavourable, and that Russia could easily raise finance from domestic borrowing instead, but that there may have been a preliminary agreement with strategic investors from Asia.

Russia's stock market has fallen sharply in recent months as a result of the East-West standoff over Ukraine, reducing the price that Russia can receive by selling state companies and delaying overall privatisation plans. (Reporting by Jason Bush and Olesya Astakhova, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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