It appears that Russneft, the thriving private oil company seized from Mikhail Gutseriyev by the Kremlin, is one step closer to being passed into the hands of Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element. The Moscow Times reports today that the company has been told it owes $800 million in back taxes, which is expected to drive the price down for the new owners:
“This is more about political, rather than legal issues,” said Timur Khairullin, oil and gas analyst at Antanta Capital. “Bearing in mind what happened to Yukos, there is no guarantee that the authorities will not slap more tax claims on the company to take control of it.”
It has been a long time since we have heard any further rumors of Abramovich or Mittal going after Russneft ownership, as it has been made clear that the state wants this property to fall into friendly hands. Are any shareholders going to bother coordinating a resistance to the bullying, or just hope to minimize their losses? If present trends are any indication, we can expect the latter.