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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rosneft IPO on track- minister

ST. PETERSBURG, April 29 (RIA Novosti) - An initial public offering of Russian state-run oil giant Rosneft is proceeding according to plan, the Russian economic development and trade minister said Saturday. "Thus far everything is going according to plan. I think that we will manage to do it in the third quarter [of 2006]," German Gref said responding to a question about the IPO timeframe. The company's president said Monday Rosneft could approve the terms of its initial public offering at a meeting of its board of directors in June. Sergei Bogdanchikov said the June meeting will approve the size of share blocks to be floated on Russian and foreign trading floors. The Rosneft president earlier said a consortium of four foreign and eight Russian banks was helping the company to prepare the issuance of shares for the stock market. He said the participation of domestic banks in the IPO effort would enable the Russian public to purchase the company's stock. Gazprombank, a subsidiary of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, and state-run retail savings bank Sberbank are among the domestic banks preparing the company's initial public offering, Bogdanchikov said. The head of the Federal Financial Markets Service said Monday Sberbank could purchase Rosneft's shares during the IPO to sell them to the public. German Gref confirmed last week that the IPO, through which Russia's No. 2 crude producer with a market capitalization of more than $25 billion could float shares worth $3bln in Russia and $12-billion on the London Stock Exchange, would take place in the third quarter of 2006. Gref also said his ministry had approved late last week the schedule and procedure for the company's upcoming IPO. Rosneft plans to sell some of its stock to repay a $7.5-billion loan it took to buy 10.74% of shares in Gazprom and thereby increase the state's share in the energy giant to a controlling block.

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