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Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Saras SpA, an Italian oil refiner, delayed plans to set up a trading joint venture with its Russian partner OAO Rosneft because of worsening relations between Europe and President Vladimir Putin’s government.

“In recent weeks, activities with Rosneft have been put on hold because of political events,” Dario Scaffardi, executive vice president and general manager, said today on a conference call. The “activities” relate to the JV as well as to commercial initiatives.

Saras, based in Milan, was scheduled to start a trading joint venture in April with its partner, which was delayed to the summer following the purchase by Rosneft of Morgan Stanley’s oil-trading business. The Russian oil company, which currently holds 21 percent in the refiner, held informal talks with the Moratti family, Saras’s biggest investor, to boost its stake, Il Sole 24 Ore reported in February.

Europe and the U.S. have tightened sanctions aimed at hurting Russia’s economy following the annexation of Ukraine and the shooting down of a plane that killed almost 300 people. Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s chief executive officer, is on a list of sanctioned individuals.

The company runs the Sarroch refinery in Sardinia with a capacity of 300,000 barrels of oil a day.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at Reed Landberg

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