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Total Buys Stock in Russia’s Novatek, Raising Stake to 15.2%

Total SA acquired additional shares in OAO Novatek, Russia’s second-biggest natural-gas producer, bringing its stake to 15.16 percent.

The French energy producer added 5 million shares as of May 24, Novatek said today in a regulatory filing. Based on the closing price in London that day, the stake would have cost about $48.5 million.

Novatek dropped 39 percent to an 19-month low on May 30 of $92.45 from this year’s high in March as Russia’s government debated raising its gas extraction tax rate to the level of gas exporter OAO Gazprom in 2015. The global depositary receipts fell 1 percent to $105.80 at 1:41 p.m. in London.

Following the slump, Novatek said June 7 that it plans to buy back as much as $600 million of stock in the next 12 months.

In April, Total said it had increased its Novatek stake to 15 percent after buying 0.3 percent of Novatek on the market for about $120 million. The Paris-based company agreed in March 2011 to buy 12 percent of Novatek for about $4 billion, with the right to build its holding to 19.4 percent in three years.

Novatek referred questions on Total’s purchase to the French company. The company didn’t say in its filing whether the stock was bought in the market. Anastasia Zhivulina, a Total spokeswoman, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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