Rosneft Lobbies Putin for State’s 20% Stake of Novorossiysk Port

OAO Rosneft is seeking President Vladimir Putin’s backing to buy the state’s 20 percent of Russia’s largest port operator, according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg.

OAO Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port’s infrastructure would help the state-controlled oil producer to develop offshore resources in the Black Sea, Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to Putin. Rosneft’s press service declined to comment on the letter. The government plans to divest its stake this year as part of an asset-sale program.

A third of Russia’s most valuable export, crude, flows through Novorossiysk’s ports on the Black and Baltic seas. Rosneft expressed interest in the port company last year, with backing at the time from OAO Transneft, the state oil pipeline operator. Tensions flared between Rosneft and Transneft this year over a pipeline extension to China before the companies agreed on financing the project this month.

“The proposed deal meets neither the government’s strategic goals nor the ports’ development program,” Irina Stupachenko, an Otkritie Capital analyst, said in an e-mailed note. “We do not believe that the government will support Sechin’s proposal.”

Transneft had turned to Rosneft as an ally as a dispute brewed with businessman Ziyavudin Magomedov’s Summa Group, its co-owner of a 50.1 percent stake in Novorossiysk, over how the port operator was run. The pipeline monopoly dropped demands for a management change in February after the partners agreed to elect Transneft First Vice President Maxim Grishanin as board chairman at Novorossiysk.

Transneft affiliates bought an additional 10 percent of the port operator on the market this month, adding to the stake it owns jointly with Summa Group, Igor Dyomin, the pipeline monopoly’s spokesman, said today by phone, confirming a report in Vedomosti newspaper on Oct. 17. The partners haven’t publicly disclosed how much they each control.

Novorossiysk owns the port by the same name on the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk, Russia’s largest oil export terminal.

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