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Обзор изданий «The Financial Times», «The Wall Street Journal»


13 - 19 апреля 2007 года


Публикации



Месть по-русски

The Financial Times

Накануне Российского экономического форума в Лондоне представители крупнейших российских компаний неожиданно отказались от участия в нем. Очевидно, что срыв конференции инициирован Кремлем: так власти отомстили Лондону за недавние скандалы, связанные с Борисом Березовским и Александром Литвиненко. Случившееся лишний раз подчеркивает, что вступать в деловые отношения с Россией небезопасно. Государство в последние годы все больше усиливает свое влияние на экономику, и смены курса не предвидится. И хотя вложения в бизнес на территории России кажутся очень перспективными, иностранные инвесторы обязательно сталкиваются с политическими рискам.


Месть по-русски


Russian revenge

The Financial Times

23.04.2007

There is something very disturbing about the last-minute mass pull-out of Russian business leaders from London's Russian Economic Forum, which starts today.

Some called the organisers, complaining of late diary changes. Others did not bother with excuses - it was obvious that behind the boycott lay the dread hand of the Kremlin.

Officials have long been unhappy with London hosting the premier annual Russian economic conference and have steadily cut ministerial representation. But business people were free to come until last week when the top names suddenly cancelled.

The authorities gave no reasons. But they left no doubt they wanted to punish London, probably over the Boris Berezovsky affair. Officials are furious at the UK's failure to respond to the exiled oligarch's recent anti-Kremlin outburst. Moscow is also angry at the harm done to Russia's global image by the row over the poisoning in London of former spy Alexander Litvinenko.

The conference pull-out highlights the challenges of doing business with Russia. While the economy is booming, creating opportunities for many companies, the Kremlin is increasingly ready to in-ter-vene in the economy, even, it seems, in the conference sector.

Officials argue that, after the turmoil of the 1990s, they had to restore order and give the state a leading role in key sectors, including energy. They say recent rapid growth proves they were right.

They have a point. But they are not telling the whole story. First, the recent boom owes almost everything to high oil prices, not government policies. Next, those policies have been implemented in untransparent ways that have done nothing to restore respect for the law - and have instead created a chilling fear of officialdom.
Also, the resurgence of the bureaucracy has been matched by growing corruption.

There is little prospect of change. Mr Putin will soon pick a successor who will almost certainly win next year's presidential poll. The front-runners, Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov, both promise continuity.

For foreign investors these are rich but dangerous waters. Even large groups are not immune from arbitrary actions, as Royal Dutch Shell found when it was pressed to sell control of the Sakhalin-2 scheme to Gazprom. Even companies not involved in strategic sectors may be hurt in the cross-fire, as the forum organisers have learnt.

Investors who think they can avoid political risk are fooling themselves. In Russia almost everything is political and almost everything potentially carries political risk.


Юкосовский аукцион и его таинственный победитель

The Financial Times

В четвертом аукционе по продаже активов обанкротившегося ЮКОСа победило некое "Монте Валле". Компания оставила позади троих участников, включая Роснефть, заплатив за доли в ряде региональных электроэнергетических предприятий $138,2 млн. Получить подробную информацию о победителе не удалось ни у Н. Лашкевича, пресс-секретаря конкурсного управляющего ЮКОСа, ни у самих представителей "Монте Валле". Согласно российским данным, "Монте Валле" зарегистрировано в августе 2003 г., гендиректором является Стивен Патрик Линч. Бывший вице-президент ЮКОСа А. Темерко назвал такой исход аукциона "костью, брошенной" посторонним участникам торгов, чтобы создать впечатление реальной борьбы за активы. Судя по уже прошедшим аукционам, только "Газпром" и "Роснефть" могут реально претендовать на контрольный пакет "Томскнефти", который вместе с другими восточно-сибирскими активами ЮКОСа будет выставлен на продажу по стартовой цене $6,4 млрд.

Юкосовский аукцион и его таинственный победитель


Mystery of Yukos auction winner

The Financial Times

18.04.2007

Catherine Belton

A mystery bidder called Monte Valle won a fourth auction for assets belonging to the bankrupt Yukos oil group, paying Dollars 138.2m for a set of stakes in regional utilities.

Nikolai Lashkevich, spokesman for the bankruptcy administrator, said he had no idea who was behind the company, which beat off three other bidders including a company affiliated with Rosneft. «The important thing is that it can pay,» Mr Lashkevich said.

Representatives of Monte Valle bidding at the auction yesterday declined to talk to the media.

Earlier auctions for big equity stakes held by Yukos had seemed to be elaborate parlour games, some analysts said, as the Kremlin sought legitimacy for a sell-off that Yukos's owners have called expropriation.

Alexander Temerko, former Yukos vice-president, said yesterday's sale was «a bone thrown» to outsiders to create the «illusion» there was real competition for the assets.

In the first auction for a 9.44 per cent stake in state-controlled Rosneft, TNK-BP, BP's Russian unit, bowed out in favour of Rosneft itself -for a below-market price.

Italy's Eni and Enel won a second sale for oil and gas assets held by Yukos, only to announce afterwards that they would hand over control to state-controlled Gazprom.

Gazprom and Rosneft are likely to vie against each other for control of Tomskneft, Yukos's biggest remaining production unit, due to go under the hammer on May 3 along with other east Siberian assets for a starting price of Dollars 6.4bn.

A Russian database listed Monte Valle as being registered in August 2003. Steven Patrick Lynch is registered as its general director.


Газпром прибирает к рукам Сахалин-2

The Wall Street Journal

18 апреля «Газпром» получил контроль над проектом Сахалин-2. Продажа «Газпрому» 50+1% акций Sakhalin Energy, принадлежащих Royal Dutch Shell PLC, за $7.45 млрд предусмотрена соглашением, достигнутым еще в декабре 2006 г. Доля Shell в проекте сократилась вдвое - до 27,5%, японских Mitsui & Co. и Mitsubishi Corp. - до 12.5% и 10% соответственно. Участники проекта также одобрили смету второго этапа до 2014 г. в объеме $19,4 млрд. В 2008 году на Сахалине начнут производить сжиженный газ, и Газпром к этому времени уже назначит нового главу Sakhalin Energy. Пойти на эту сделку Shell вынудили экологические претензии Росприроднадзора, который, по мнению аналитиков, просто помогал «Газпрому» захватить проект.


Газпром прибирает к рукам Сахалин-2


Gazprom takes reins of project shared with Shell

The Wall Street Journal

19.04.2007

Andrew Langley

Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom yesterday formally took control of the huge Sakhalin-2 oil and gas development, as a $19.4 billion budget for the second stage of the project was approved.

As part of an agreement hammered out in December, Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a deal that gives the Russian company a 50%-plus-one-share stake in the project's operator Sakhalin Energy in exchange for $7.45 billion in cash. As a result, Shell's stake is halved -- to 27.5% -- as are the holdings of Japanese companies Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp., which now own 12.5% and 10%, respectively.

«Gazprom's entry into Sakhalin-2 is a powerful impetus for implementation of this large-scale development in the area of energy export to Asia Pacific and North America,» Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Alexander Medvedev said. «In turn, it will facilitate the company's strategy of phased entry into the global liquefied natural gas market,» he added.

LNG production at Sakhalin, an island off Russia's Pacific coast, is expected to begin next year, at which time Gazprom plans to appoint a new head of Sakhalin Energy to succeed current Chief Executive Ian Craig, Mr. Medvedev said. Mr. Craig's contract was due to expire when the plant comes online.

Gazprom had originally planned to take a 25% stake in Sakhalin-2 under an asset-swap deal that would have given Shell a stake in another project in Siberia. That transaction faced difficulty, however, when Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of Russian environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, threatened to pull the venture's environmental permit in September following a series of checks.

Mr. Mitvol's investigation was perceived by analysts as a way to support a Gazprom takeover of the energy project. Prior to that, the venture had already faced setbacks soon after Shell announced in July 2005 that the project's costs would double to $20 billion -- an inflated budget that required agreement from the Russian government.

The four companies also yesterday approved a new budget of $19.4 billion covering the second stage of the Sakhalin-2 project, which runs until 2014.




Выступать против иностранцев становится традицией

The Financial Times

Требование главы Росприроднадзора О. Митволя отозвать лицензию у Imperial Energy, озвученное 18 апреля, - далеко не первая претензия этого недружелюбного чиновника к иностранным компаниям. О. Митволь попал на первые полосы газет в 2006 г. - тогда он возглавил кампанию против участия Shell в проекте Сахалин-2. Сейчас О. Митволь пытается заставить TNK-BP продать свою долю в ковыктинском месторождении. Тем не менее далеко не все угрозы О. Митволя оканчивались серьезными последствиями. Так, в декабре 2006 г. он обвинил в нарушениях «Peter Hambro Mining», чем спровоцировал обвал котировок золотодобывающей компании. Однако две недели спустя глава Росприроднадзора сообщил, что претензии урегулированы. По всей видимости, Кремль периодически натравливает Росприроднадзор на иностранные компании, которые мешают государству установить контроль над ключевыми активами. Впрочем, сам О. Митволь подобные претензии отрицает.

Выступать против иностранцев вошло в привычку


Gruff Russian makes habit of campaigning

The Financial Times

19.04.2007

Catherine Belton

Oleg Mitvol's calls yesterday for Imperial Energy's licences to be revoked are not the first time the gruff Russian official has tangled with foreign resource companies, writes Catherine Belton in Moscow.

Mr Mitvol, who heads the Russian government's environmental watchdog, hit the headlines when he led the state campaign last year against Royal Dutch Shell's$22bn (Ј11bn) Sakhalin-2 oiland gas venture.

His six-month campaign against the venture over alleged ecological violations ended in Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled gas giant, taking control of Sakhalin-2 for $7.4bn.

He is also leading calls to revoke TNK-BP's licence to develop a vital asset, its vast east Siberian Kovykta gas field, over production violations in what many analysts see as part of a battle to force TNK-BP's Russian shareholders to sell to a state energy group.

But not all his threats have produced results. Mr Mitvol's claims last December that Peter Hambro Mining had breached licence requirements badly hit the shares of the London-listed gold producer. But just two weeks later Mr Mitvol pronounced that Peter Hambro was in the clear.

Critics say Mr Mitvol serves as a government «attack dog», instrumental in a Kremlin drive to transfer control from foreign companies to the Russian state. But he denies his role has anything to do with politics. In a recent interview, he said that his function was only to make sure that companies - whether Russian or foreign - abide by the law.

But he reserves particular vigour for foreign companies, which he says got used to ruling the roost in the chaotic 1990s.

Now, he says, all he asks is for foreign companies to stick to the rules.


Endesa: финальные аккорды

Endesa's Epilogue

Сделка по продаже испанской энергетической компании Endesa, скорее всего, будет завершена в течение ближайших месяцев, а то и недель. Руководство Endesa, вероятно, согласится на предложенную итальянской Enel и испанской Acciona цену в 43,7 млрд евро после того, как E.On выбыл из борьбы за энергокомпанию. Тем не менее схема реализации сделки, равно как и ее политическая подоплека, оставляет широкий простор для предположений.

Endesa: финальные аккорды


Endesa's Epilogue

The Wall Street Journal

19.04.2007

Kyle Wingfield

Checking over the usual list of reporter's questions, most appear to have been answered, finally, in the complicated Endesa takeover story. Italian utility Enel and Spanish conglomerate Acciona (the who) will most likely succeed with their 43.7 billion euros bid for Endesa (the what), keeping the Spanish electricity giant's vast operations in Spain and Latin America but selling its other European assets (the where) to E.On, the German utility whose earlier bid for Endesa they submarined. And (here's the when) it should all be wrapped up within a matter of months, if not weeks.

But let us linger awhile over the two other standard queries: how and why. We may find that there is still plenty of intrigue left in a drama whose most curious plot twists so far have come just when all seemed settled.

The «how» promises to be fleshed out on Tuesday. That's when Manuel Conthe, head of Spain's stock-market regulator, known by its Spanish initials CNMV, is slated to tell Parliament why he plans to resign over the entire affair.

From what Mr. Conthe has said publicly so far, we can conclude that he believes there was political interference in the CNMV's decision making. The agency is supposed to be independent of the government even if its members are political appointees. Yet when the rest of the CNMV's board rejected Mr. Conthe's push to fine Enel and Acciona for for breaking Spanish takeover rules by bidding for Endesa after a deadline for competitive offers had passed, he was livid. He has hinted that his board colleagues -- most of whom are considered to be much closer to the Socialist government than Mr. Conthe -- didn't set aside their political considerations in weighing the Enel-Acciona case. «The CNMV cannot serve two masters,» Mr. Conthe complained to journalists after the board's decision. «It is an independent institution of government.»

The biggest offender in his eyes seems to have been the agency's vice president, Carlos Arenillas. Mr. Conthe has called on Parliament to fire Mr. Arenillas, and El Pais reported yesterday that he has not allowed Mr. Arenillas «for a number of weeks . . . to sign documents on behalf of the regulator.» Mr. Arenillas is an acolyte of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, so the implication is that he was the government's point man in clearing the regulatory path for Enel and Acciona's bid for Endesa.

Longtime friends of Mr. Conthe note that he's a talented economist and a dedicated civil servant, traits that have given him a reputation for egotism and self-righteousness in some quarters. But while he can also be a loose cannon, it's unlikely that he's just popping off about Mr. Arenillas without having proof to support the call to have him fired. Mr. Conthe has been in a similar situation before: In 2001, while working for the World Bank, he took on then-Bank President James Wolfensohn, claiming that he was demoted after circulating a memo critical of Mr. Wolfensohn. Thus, one Conthe friend concludes, «He must have clear evidence on Arenillas.»

Even if Mr. Conthe clears up the «how,» it's unlikely to do much good in learning «why» Mr. Zapatero worked so ardently to push the Enel-Acciona alternative to E.On's bid for Endesa. Ever since Enel bought a 10% stake in Endesa just days after a February summit between Mr. Zapatero and Italian Premier Romano Prodi, and then followed that up by buying options on another 14.9% of the company, there's been little doubt that this was an arranged marriage.

But what was Mr. Zapatero's motivation? It may be because E.On had shown him up by defeating Barcelona-based Gas Natural's original bid for Endesa, which he favored, and he didn't want to come out as the loser in such a high-profile battle. In considering the prime minister who has divided all of official Madrid into two camps -- for him and against him -- that's not an unreasonable conclusion.

It might not be the only answer, though. While much has changed in the 19 months since Gas Natural launched its 23 billion euros hostile bid for Endesa, a couple of key things haven't. First, Mr. Zapatero still owes a favor to the Catalan politicians who help to keep his minority coalition together -- and who, under the terms of the 2003 Pacto del Tinell, are still waiting for a Catalan energy champion to be created. Second, while the price tag for Endesa has nearly doubled, Gas Natural is a smaller fish that can't afford to swallow all of the power company at its new, higher market capitalization.

So what are the chances that, a few years from now, Enel and Acciona will suddenly decide to sell Endesa's Spanish power-generating assets to none other than Gas Natural? Acciona, which is primarily a construction company and is chiefly interested in currying favor with Madrid, could be game.

Enel might be more reluctant, though some arrangement could no doubt be reached; if nothing else, the Italian firm might be allowed to keep Endesa's assets in Latin America, where it already has some operations. It could come down to whether the integration of European energy markets, scheduled to begin this summer, goes well or not. If protectionist politicians in Spain, France and elsewhere succeed in preserving a system based on national markets, Enel might have less to gain from staying in Spain and could be persuaded to get out of it.

People close to both Endesa and Enel say they haven't heard of any such plans. Still, given the way things have played out far, it's probably not time to consider Endesa a closed case just yet.

Mr. Wingfield edits the Business Europe column. Write to kyle.wingfield@wsj.com.


Неутолимый аппетит государства

The Financial Times

Роль TNK-BP в аукционе по продаже активов нефтяной компании «ЮКОС», в ходе которого она галантно уступила активы государственно «Роснефти», сводилось к тому, чтобы придать торгам видимость законности. Подобным образом поступили итальянские Eni и Enel. Они победили на втором аукционе по распродаже активов «ЮКОСа», но затем объявили, что уступят контроль над своими приобретениями «Газпрому». Такое раболепие раскрывает новую тактику крупных иностранных нефтяных компаний,, стремящихся занять свое место в новом энергетическом порядке президента В. Путина. Те немногие независимые, а также иностранные нефтяные компании, что продолжают работать в России, задают себе вопрос о том, как далеко зайдет государство в своих действиях по укреплению контроля над отраслью. В ситуации, когда мировые цены на энергоресурсы растут, а государственные компании увеличивают свой вес и влияние в глобальном масштабе, никакая находящаяся в России собственность крупной иностранной корпорации не защищена от опасности быть поглощенной государством.

Неутолимый аппетит государства


The state's unsated appetite

The Financial Times

20.04.2007

Catherine Belton

When BP's Russia venture TNK-BP gallantly lost to state-controlled Rosneft in the recent cut-price auction of remaining assets of the Yukos oil group, its participation helped legitimise a process criticised by Yukos shareholders as expropriation, analysts say.

Italian energy majors Eni and Enel swiftly followed - winning a second Yukos assets auction only to hand control of their winnings to Russia's state gas monopoly, Gazprom.

The kowtowing has underlined the new subservience of foreign oil majors seeking a place in Vladimir Putin's new energy order, which for many industry observers began with the smashing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Yukos oil company over back tax claims.

The humility has taken such a hold that when Gazprom took over Royal Dutch-Shell's Sakahlin-2 oil and gas venture last November after a crushing government campaign, Jeroen van der Veer, Shell's chief executive, enthusiastically thanked Mr Putin for his support.

Since Yukos' main production unit Yuganskneftegaz was sold to pay off back tax claims in December 2004, the state's direct and indirect share of Russian crude output has risen from 28 per cent to 50 percent. By the time the last bit of Yukos has gone under the hammer on May 11, the state's share will likely have risen to nearly 55 per cent.

The few remaining independent and foreign oil majors operating in Russia question how much further the state control drive will go. In a global energy environment of high prices and increasing clout by state-owned companies, «not one asset that belongs to a major foreign corporation in Russia is free from the risk of being swallowed by a state company,» says Vladimir Milov, former deputy energy minister. In four years, foreign oil majors have gone from nearly landing a significant stake in Yukos - which could have given direct access to nearly a quarter of Russia's oil reserves - to being squeezed on all fronts. «The rules are clear if you want to be in the game,» says Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. «The state has direct control and will selectively bring minority partners in.»

«It is extraordinary to see this transformation,» says Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. «But this is an era in which power has shifted toward state companies and the questions international oil companies are facing in Russia are similar to the access questions they are facing elsewhere.»

«The increase in oil prices.?.?.has facilitated this in Russia as in other countries,» he says. TNK-BP, owned 50-50 by a group of Russian billionaires and by BP, is under increasing pressure to fit into the new paradigm. The Russo-British venture faces government threats to revoke its license for a huge gas project, the east Siberian Kovykta field. Analysts and bankers say its battle over Kovykta is part of a bigger game in which Gazprom or Rosneft is seeking to buy out the Russian half. Even though TNK-BP's billionaire shareholders have denied they intend to sell out, bankers say a takeover is only a question of time. «I think the question is not so much if, but when and by whom,» says Frank Kujilaars, global head of oil and gas at ABN Amro. «This is just going to be a phone call,» says another banker familiar with the matter. «If they are told to sell, they will sell.»

Also facing possible pressure, says Mr Milov, is the Exxon Mobil-led Sakhalin-1 venture on the far east island near Japan, 80 per cent owned by a consortium of Exxon, India 's ONGC and Japanese companies. Oleg Mitvol, the Russian official who led the probe over alleged ecological violations at Sakhalin-2 that ended in Gazprom's takeover, is due to start checking Exxon's record in May.

Investors also think Russia's last remaining major independent oil company, Lukoil, faces risks too. It trades at a price/earnings ratio of eight times, compared to more than 20 times for Rosneft. The reason for Lukoil's valuation, says Mr Weafer, is because «investors see that company as stuck in no-man's land». One way Lukoil appears to be shoring up a future with the state was its announcement earlier this year that it would form a joint venture with Gazprom Neft, Gazprom's oil arm that was formerly Roman Abramovich's Sibneft.

Lukoil's president, Vagit Alekperov, denied that the venture was the only way it can win access to new fields in east Siberia and the Arctic. «We will back each other up and build enough resources to develop not just separate fields but entire new oil provinces,» Mr Alekperov told the FT.

The state's undeniable voracity for new energy assets may still be held back by its own inefficiencies, analysts and bankers say. Debt levels at Rosneft and Gazprom are ballooning.

Most importantly, the Kremlin and state-controlled companies recognise they need foreign technology to develop complicated new provinces like the Arctic. But as with Gazprom's snap decision last year to develop its vast Arctic Shtokman gas field alone, any foreign participation is likely only on Moscow's terms. Foreign oil majors such as Norsk Hydro, ConocoPhilips and Total may be invited to take part in Shtokman only as contractors, Gazprom has said.

Arkady Dvorkovich, Mr Putin's economic advisor, sees state ownership in the energy sector gradually falling back, for example via additional share emissions by Rosneft.

But as Russia's investment needs mushroom - developing new gas fields on the Yamal peninsula alone needs investment the size of Russia's $100bn stabilisation fund, Mr Milov argues - it is going to need greater foreign participation, critics say. While Gazprom is expanding into other sectors of the economy such as electricity and oil, the country already has a gas deficit of 4bn cubic metres this year. The International Energy Agency argues that with delays in developing new capital-intensive supply sources such as Yamal, that number is only set to climb.




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