Source AP ©

Russian aluminum tycoon seeks regulatory approval to buy embattled oil group

Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska's company said Monday it is seeking regulatory approval to buy private oil group Russneft, whose owner says he has been forced out in a campaign by police and tax authorities.

A spokesman for Basic Element, Deripaska's holding company, said it had applied for anti-monopoly permission to acquire Russneft, which pumps 320,000 barrels of crude per day, and expected a decision within a month.

Whether Basic Element, or Basel, intended to hold on to Russneft, or sell it on to one of the state energy groups that have come to dominate the sector under President Vladimir Putin, was unclear.

Deripaska is viewed as loyal to the Kremlin and has said that he would sell his vast aluminum holdings to the state if asked.

"We will be glad if Basel purchases Russneft," said Mikhail Shishkhanov, the president of Russneft-affiliated bank BIN-Bank, in comments provided by Russneft press secretary Eduard Sarkizov.

Neither company would reveal details of how much was being offered, but a source close to the negotiations said that a price of between US$6.5 billion (EUR 4.8 billion) and US$7 billion (EUR 5 billion) was being discussed.

In a letter published in Russneft's corporate magazine and posted on the company's Web site, Russneft President Mikhail Gutseriyev said that he had been asked by unidentified people to quit the oil business, but he had refused, whereupon an "unprecedented hunt" had been opened against the company over two years by prosecutors, tax authorities and police.

The company faces tax claims of nearly US$1 billion (EUR 730 million); police charged Gutseriyev with illegal business activities in May.

While Gutseriyev said he didn't know why he was being targeted, he is reported to have angered authorities by bidding for overseas assets belonging to the Yukos oil company. Most of Yukos' assets have been taken over by state-controlled Rosneft, the last of which were acquired this spring.

Yukos was carved up after being hit with US$28 billion (EUR 21 billion) in back tax claims. The campaign against the company and its founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky was seen as aimed at punishing him for his perceived political ambitions and capturing a major chunk of the oil industry for the state.

Comments
Russians lose faith in their future, get ready for worse
Russians lose faith in their future, get ready for worse
Argentina hides the truth about the death of San Juan submarine
Moving inexorably towards war
Presidential and midterm elections in the USA change the 'American project' entirely
USA plays to pretend a mighty dragon that can no longer breathe fire
Presidential and midterm elections in the USA change the 'American project' entirely
Brexit: The UK's misunderstanding of Democracy
Putin and Erdogan launch first section of TurkStream pipeline in Istanbul
Nagorno-Karabakh: 20,000 people killed, but no one is interested
Putin and Erdogan launch first section of TurkStream pipeline in Istanbul
Russia rips its economy apart with help from the West
Brexit: The UK's misunderstanding of Democracy
Five years after Maidan revolution, Ukraine remains one of Europe's most corrupt states
Kuril Islands dispute between Russia and Japan: The impossible is impossible
Argentina hides the truth about the death of San Juan submarine
Kuril Islands dispute between Russia and Japan: The impossible is impossible
Putin and Erdogan launch first section of TurkStream pipeline in Istanbul
Why Trump tries to re-industrialize America
Russians lose faith in their future, get ready for worse
Theatrical posters depicting naked dancers banned in Russian provincial city