Large stake in Sibneft likely to be sold to French company

The French company Total is the most probable candidate for buying a large block of shares in Sibneft. Dimity Tsaregorodtsev, an analyst with the investment company Prospect, told RBC commenting on the information that Total received a prior approval to buy 25 percent of Sibneft's shares from Russian authorities. According to him, the government is interested in the appearance of "continental European capital" on the Russian market. "At first, Anglo-Saxon capital represented by BP came to Russia; major Asian investors may be invited to Russia's economy in order to balance interests in the future."

At the same time, according to the analyst, the block of shares Total is buying is unlikely to be confined to 25 percent. In this case, another big shareholder in Sibneft will have 67 percent and it will hardly be possible to sell such a block to another strategic investor at a fair price, the analyst pointed out. "This 25 percent block of shares is probably just the first lot within the framework of the deal, which is being carried out in several stages," Tsaregorodtsev said. According to him, the block of Sibneft's shares might be sold before finishing the "divorce" with YUKOS.

In his turn, analyst with BrokerCreditService Maxim Shein believes that Total may become the owner of the blocking stake in Sibneft only after Sibneft's "divorce" with YUKOS.

Sibneft is not commenting on a possible selling of shares and is referring to it as to "market rumors."

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