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CEFC China Energy buys $9bn stake in Rosneft
CEFC China Energy is set to take a stake of almost $9bn in Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft, in a major strengthening of energy ties between Beijing and Moscow as relations deteriorate with the west.

CEFC, a private conglomerate with interests in energy and financial services, will take a 14.16 per cent stake in Rosneft after agreeing to buy shares held by Switzerland’s Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority in an offshore vehicle.

Moscow has looked to pivot towards China since US and EU sanctions were imposed in 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a string of recent energy deals has deepened the bond between the world’s largest energy exporter and consumer.

The Rosneft deal in effect restructures a €10.2bn purchase of shares by Qatar and mining group Glencore in December 2016, and will see CEFC, which has grown rapidly in recent years through acquisitions, become Rosneft’s third-largest shareholder.

The Russian state holds a controlling 50 per cent stake, while BP, the UK oil company, owns 19.75 per cent.

Three people with knowledge of the deal told the Financial Times this week that Glencore and QIA were keen to rethink their 19.5 per cent holding in Rosneft, which was purchased late last year in a deal funded by Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo and a number of Russian banks.

Glencore will retain a 0.5 per cent stake and QIA 4.7 per cent after the transaction, which is subject to final approvals and regulatory clearance.

The sale comes less than a month after the US approved sweeping new sanctions against Russia in retaliation for alleged meddling in its presidential election.

Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin said CEFC had purchased shares that had been pledged as collateral for the loan used to fund the purchase of the stake. Intesa said its €5.2bn ($6.26bn) funding would be fully reimbursed following the deal.

CEFC will pay a premium of around 16 per cent above Rosneft’s 30-day volume weighted average price, Glencore said, valuing the deal at around $8.9bn.

The deal, which the FT reported was likely to be signed this week, is the latest and biggest in a string of deals between Russia and China, which has become an important investor in Russia’s energy sector since western sanctions cut off a large amount of financial and technical support.

The CEFC deal allows the Kremlin to show western governments that it could replace European and US co-operation and capital with Chinese companies, one of the people with knowledge of the deal said

For Glencore, the sale allows the Swiss-based miner and commodity trader to repay the debt taken on to fund the transaction but crucially retain a supply agreement over 220,000 barrels a day of Rosneft oil production, a deal that helped cement the company’s position as the world’s second-biggest independent oil trader.

Glencore said last month that its oil trading volumes had jumped to 6.15m barrels a day, from 4.41m a year, after it bought the stake in Rosneft.

In a statement, CEFC said the transaction had received the preliminary approval from the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s chief economic planning body.

“By bridging Rosneft and the Chinese market and promoting the bilateral co-operation, CEFC China will better serve the energy demand of China,” said CEFC’s chairman Ye Jianming.

“I strongly believe that the transaction will inject new energy into the economic and trade co-operation between China and Russia.”