Russian state holding gives up control of Rosneft after Venezuela exit

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s state holding company Rosneftegaz has relinquished its controlling stake in the country’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, Rosneft said on Friday, after Rosneft’s exit from Venezuela.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russia's oil company Rosneft is pictured at the Rosneft Vietnam office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam April 26, 2018. Picture taken April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Rosneft disposed of its assets in Venezuela two months ago as the United States stepped up sanctions against the firm.

Analysts have said that the renunciation of state control will limit the risk of new U.S. sanctions being imposed on Rosneft.

Rosneft, which normally pumps 4.7 million barrels of oil a day, said in a regulatory statement that Rosneftegaz now owned a 40.4% stake, down from just above 50% before the deal. It also said that its subsidiary, RN-NeftCapitalInvest, had become the owner of 9.6% of the company.

After Rosneft quit Venezuela, Russia set up a company called Roszarubezhneft, which subsequently acquired Rosneft’s assets in the South American country.

Washington has long criticised Rosneft for working in Venezuela. The Trump administration has waged a campaign of sanctions and diplomatic measures in an effort to oust President Nicolas Maduro, whose 2018 re-election was considered a sham by most Western countries.

This year the United States imposed sanctions on two Swiss-based Rosneft units - Rosneft Trading and TNK Trading International - that Washington said had provided Maduro and his state energy company PDVSA with a lifeline.

Rosneft told Reuters in March that its decision to terminate operations in Venezuela was designed to protect shareholders.

International shareholders in Rosneft, headed by Igor Sechin, a long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin, include BP, which has 19.75%, and Qatar via QH Oil Investments LLC, which owns another 18.93%.

Earlier on Friday, Rosneft said Sechin had been re-appointed chief executive officer for another five years.

In a separate statement, Rosneft said it had divested its stake in a private security firm that had become the owner of 80% of the National Petroleum Consortium, a Russian entity that has worked in Venezuela.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Louise Heavens and Kevin Liffey