Ruias to sell Essar Oil for $13 billion

Rosneft brings in Trafiguria and UCP to work around the US sanctions.

New Delhi: Russian oil giant Rosneft, together with European commodities trader Trafigura and Russian fund UCP are likely to buy Essar Oil for about $13 billion, leaving a token 2 per cent stake with existing promoters, the Ruia family. The deal, which includes taking over of $4.5 billion debt on Essar Oil books, is likely to be signed on Saturday in Goa, sources privy to the transaction said.

Rosneft PJSC is likely to take 49 per cent stake while Trafigura Group Pte and UCP will split another 49 per cent equally among them. The Ruia family, which currently owns Essar Oil, will keep a token 2 per cent stake after the deal is signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Goa for the BRICS Summit on October 15-16, sources said. They said originally Ruias wanted to shed only 49 per cent in favour of Rosneft but the $3.5 billion they would have got from the Russian company wasn’t enough to pay of the $4.5 billion debt on the company's books.

A larger 74 per cent stake was offered to Rosneft but that idea was dropped as the Russian company faces US sanctions and by a virtue of its majority stake Essar Oil too would have come on that list. At this stage, Trafigura was roped in and offered 24 per cent stake. Trafigura, which has close ties to Rosneft, was to finance its acquisition by taking loan from Russia’s VTB Capital, part of state-controlled bank VTB.

Sources said Trafigura is likely to take 24.5 per cent stake and UCP a matching interest. The deal includes the Vadinar refinery as well as the Vadinar port and more than 2,500 petrol pumps. A power plant serving the refinery as well as company’s coal-bed methane (CBM) blocks are unlikely to be included in the deal. As part of the deal, Rosneft-Trafigura will also takeover the debt of Essar Oil, sources said.

Last year U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had issued a Crimea sanctions advisory, adding Rosneft and its subsidiaries to its sectoral sanctions identifications list in retaliation for the Russian “invasion” of eastern Ukraine. Entities on this list are subject to economic and trade sanctions on grounds that they pose a risk to U.S. national security and are in violation of U.S. foreign policy objectives.

OAO Rosneft had in March signed a non-binding agreement to buy a 49 per cent stake in Essar Oil. This was a follow-up of the July 2015 deal wherein Rosneft was to supply Vadinar refinery with 200,000 barrels of crude per day (10 million tons a year) for 10 years. Sources said Trafigura may at a later stage transfer its stake to Rosneft. Trafigura handles most of the crude exported by Rosneft. This has propelled Trafigura to being the world’s second- biggest independent oil trader, handling more than 4 million barrels a day.

( Source : PTI )
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