* Gutseriyev puts Russneft debt at $4 bln
* Firm going through restructuring and refinancing talks
* Glencore has deal to keep buying crude for 20 years
By Katya Golubkova and Dmitry Zhdannikov
SOCHI/LONDON, Russia, Sept 27 Commodities trader
and mining giant Glencore Xstrata could become a
shareholder in Russian oil firm Russneft as part of a debt
restructuring, Russneft's owner said on Friday.
"If Glencore chooses to convert some of Russneft's debt into
shares, it may well become a shareholder," Mikhail Gutseriyev
told Reuters by telephone.
Glencore, which declined to comment, helped Gutseriyev build
up Russneft a decade ago into a mid-sized oil firm and is still
owed around $2.3 billion out of Russneft's total debt of $4
But while being a big buyer of Russian oil it still has only
a modest presence in oil production in the former Soviet Union,
having accumulated minority stakes in some production units of
Gutseriyev said that regardless of whether Glencore chooses
to convert debt into shares, the trading house will remain the
main buyer of Russneft's oil under a renewed 20-year deal.
He said Russneft was currently going through a restructuring
and debt refinancing with creditors with the aim of cutting
interest payments on its debt, streamlining its corporate
structure and cutting costs, and ultimately raising production.
"Our aim is to bring down interest payments on our credits
and fully repay debts by 2017-2018," he said, adding that the
firm was also aiming to increase output to 18 million tonnes in
the mid-term from the current 14 million tonnes, equivalent to
280,000 barrels a day.
Earlier on Friday, Gutseriyev told reporters that he had
bought from Sberbank, another major creditor, the two
percent of Russneft he did not already own, acknowledging for
the first time that he has again become the sole owner of the
company he created a decade ago when he bought parts of
Slavneft, which he ran, soon after its privatisation.
Now ranked 34th in Forbes magazine's latest Russian rich
list, Gutseriyev fled Russia in 2007 following accusations of
At the time, he agreed to sell Russneft to aluminium tycoon
Oleg Deripaska, but the deal never materialised, and he sold 49
percent to Russian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema
Gutseriyev returned in 2010 and Russia has since dropped a
criminal case against him. Gutseriyev agreed to buy the Sistema
stake back in June for $1.2 billion, according to sources close
to the company.
On Friday Gutseriyev also said he had no plans to buy a
stake in Russian potash company Uralkali, the recent
subject of much takeover speculation, despite earlier media
reports he was among interested bidders.
"How could an asset which makes money be not interesting ?
... If I had money, I would buy ... (but) I don't need it," he