Rosneft to raise £10bn from float despite 'theft' risk

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The Independent Online

The Russian oil giant Rosneft is to publish the price range for its July flotation on the Moscow and London stock exchanges today which is expected to value the company at between $60bn and $80bn.

The state-controlled group led by Sergei Bogdanchikov plans to raise $10bn from the initial public offering, which is set to be the biggest of the year and one of the most controversial. The prospectus for the offering will be published today and the shares are scheduled to start trading on 19 July. The float will be priced in dollars as Rosneft reports its results in the US currency.

The plans have raised eyebrows among investors such as George Soros because Rosneft's largest oil production unit, Yuganskneftegaz, was forcibly acquired from the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2004 for a fraction of its real value to pay off an alleged back-tax bill against the tycoon's oil firm Yukos.

Yukos has asked the Financial Services Authority to block the flotation, alleging the float would amount to the sale of stolen property. Rosneft dismissed the move as a desperate, eleventh hour attempt that would not affect its plans.

However, the prospectus will contain a lengthy section on risk factors. In the 2005 results, the risk assessment ran to seven pages. Like most other Russian companies, Rosneft will list global depositary receipts rather than primary shares, which would require it to meet the strict corporate governance standards of UK-listed companies.

Mr Bogdanchikov, who is estimated to be worth around $700m, has tried to boost investor confidence by saying he would spend around a third of his money buying Rosneft shares.