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State presence in Rosneft may be below controlling stake – PM

November 26, 2012, 9:39 UTC+3

Medvedev stressed that at the moment Rosneft is a state company, but the situation could change in the future

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MOSCOW, November 26 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev does not rule out that the state’s presence in the Rosneft oil and gas company may be below the controlling stake.

“The state must of course decide here on what is expedient, and to which extent it can reduce its presence,” the prime minister said in an interview with the AFP (Agence France-Press) news agency and the Le Figaro newspaper ahead of his visit to Paris.

“At first it can be the level higher than the controlling stake. Later it can be any level: it will depend on different reasons – priorities and the economic condition of the company and the global economy on the whole,” Medvedev said.

Medvedev stressed that at the moment Rosneft is a state company, but the situation could change in the future. “Already now it has quite a significant percentage of shares on the so-called free-float, and this will continue,” he added. “Rosneft will continue selling its shares, or to be more exact the state will continue selling Rosneft shares”.

The prime minister also noted that the purchase of TNK-BP by the state-owned Rosneft did not run counter to the policy of privatization pursued by the government. Medvedev believes that this deal came as a result of “rather trivial causes”.

“The shareholders should not have quarreled. It is an absolutely private company, TNK-BP, but at a certain point they simply locked in mortal combat,” he explained.

“May be their decision to set up a 50-50 company was incorrect, as when I was a lawyer I always said to my clients ‘never create anything at 50-50’. So they set up such a company, a good and successful one by the way, but as these developments did take place, they decided to sell their shares,” the prime minister said. “That is why the question emerged – who can buy that,” he added.

Medvedev drew attention to the fact that the government had not been indifferent as to who would buy one of the biggest oil companies of Russia. “That is why when Rosneft demonstrated interest in that asset, it was more convenient for us than to have some unclear for us player emerging there,” he added.

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