China's CEFC set to raise $5.1 billion from VTB for Rosneft deal: sources

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - CEFC China Energy is set to raise $5.1 billion in short-term loans from VTB VTBR.MM, Russia's second-biggest lender, to part finance its $9.1 billion purchase of a stake in Rosneft Oil ROSM.NN, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Russian state oil firm Rosneft is seen at its office in Moscow, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

CEFC last month said it will buy a 14.16 percent stake in the Russian oil major from a consortium of Glencore GLEN.L and the Qatar Investment Authority, strengthening energy ties between Moscow and Beijing.

It received preliminary Chinese approval to buy the stake about a week after the deal was announced.

The $5.1 billion loan agreement would help the privately run Chinese conglomerate to close the Rosneft deal. Two sources said the loan would be for one year, with one saying the tenure could be extended by another year.

CEFC will use its own cash for the remaining $4 billion of the purchase price, the sources said. CEFC is also in separate talks with China Development Bank (CDB), a policy bank, to refinance the short-term credit from VTB, they said.

“CDB is very actively engaged in discussions for the follow-up loans, ready to shoulder 70 percent or more of the value,” said one source involved in the talks. Other Chinese banks could also provide refinancing, the source said.

CEFC and CDB did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. VTB’s press office in Moscow declined to comment.

The deal is set to win final approval from the Chinese government, including the State Council, or Cabinet, by the end of 2017, as it is seen as an investment that fits into Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, said two of the sources.

CEFC has grown in recent years from a niche oil trader into a sprawling energy conglomerate and the Rosneft stake will allow China, the world’s second-largest energy consumer, to boost co-operation with the world’s top oil producer.

Rosneft is run by Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CDB has long supported CEFC and is its biggest lender, but some Chinese lenders said that they were cautious about taking part in a loan due to western economic sanctions imposed on Russia.

“We are still considering and trying to learn more about CEFC and will be very careful given the sanctions,” said a Beijing-based loan banker involved in talks for a CDB-led refinancing group.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Carol Zhong; Additional reporting by Kane Wu and Yan Jiang; Editing by Neil Fullick