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Shell in £1billion deal with Russia oil firm


Times Online
August 3, 2008

Shell in £1billion deal with Russia oil firm

Oil giant seeks asset-swap for stake in Sibir, its AIM-listed partner in Siberia, despite rival BP’s troubles in Moscow

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL has held preliminary talks with Sibir, the Russia-focused oil firm, about a £1 billion asset-swap deal that could see it acquire a sizeable stake in its smaller rival.

Shell and Sibir are equal partners in the Salym developments in western Siberia, estimated to hold more than 1 billion barrels of oil.

Talks have been held about a deal under which Shell would swap its 50% stake in the Salym fields for an equity holding in Sibir itself, according to industry sources.

Sibir, which has a £2.4 billion market value, is the largest company on London’s Alternative Investment Market and is expected to be promoted to the blue-chip FTSE 100 index this year.

The deal would allow Shell to retain an economic interest in the development, while distancing itself from operations on the ground.

It is unclear whether Sibir is interested in striking an agreement. The company already has two large shareholders — Russian billionaire Chalva Tchigirinski and the city of Moscow.

The asset-swap proposal comes as BP remains mired in difficulties over its Russian joint venture, TNK-BP. Tony Hayward, the BP chief executive, held a summit meeting with Mikhail Fridman, one of his four Russian partners, in Prague last week. Although no resolutions were found, the two sides are said to have made some progress on how to resolve the dispute.


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