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Russian Regulator to Probe Rosneft Stock Gain Before Exxon Deal

Russia’s financial markets watchdog is opening an insider-trading investigation into OAO Rosneft’s share-price increase before the oil producer formed a strategic alliance with Exxon Mobil Corp. in August.

The probe will take at least six months, Interfax said today, citing an unidentified Federal Financial Markets Service official. The regulator’s press service confirmed the report.

Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, jumped 9 percent on the Micex exchange in Moscow in the two days leading up to the deal. The state-run company and Exxon Mobil signed the agreement about an hour before the close of trading on Aug. 30. The benchmark Micex Index gained 3.8 percent on Aug. 29 and 30.

Rosneft selected Exxon as a partner to tap the Kara Sea, a little-explored area in the Arctic that may be an extension of Russia’s western Siberian oil province, after an agreement with BP Plc collapsed. The two will also explore deep-water Black Sea deposits. In return, Exxon will offer Rosneft participation in projects in Canada, Texas, the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

Rosneft’s press service didn’t immediately comment when called by Bloomberg. Olga Shishkina, a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil in Moscow, declined by e-mail to comment.

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