Rosneft: A Deal Both Tempting and Troubling

The state-owned Russian oil giant has vast reserves -- but its controversial past has investors wary

Imagine an oil company that has in five years seen its annual production and profits grow to six times their former size, making it one of the world's largest energy giants, with more proven oil reserves than Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM). Now, suppose that at a time of near-record oil prices the company plans to sell up to 49% of its shares in an initial public offering worth some $20 billion. Investors would be champing at the bit, right?

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