Russia

The 2007 takeover of the Dutch parts of Yukos Oil by Russian state oil company Rosneft’s former subsidiary Promneftstroy was illegal, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday, upholding an earlier lower appeals court ruling. Yukos Oil went bankrupt in 2006 after its former chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, fell out with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the Russian government began demanding billions in back taxes, Reuters reported. Most of Yukos’ assets were absorbed by the Kremlin’s flagship oil producer Rosneft, and its former owners have for years been trying to recover their possessions.

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Russian aluminum company Rusal said today that it has appointed independent non-executive director Jean-Pierre Thomas as its new chairman as part of an agreed restructuring in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported. The previous chairman, Matthias Warnig, stepped down earlier this week after six years at the world’s largest aluminum producer outside China. His resignation was a condition of the deal.Jean-Pierre Thomas was elected by the board as chairman with effect from Jan. 1, Rusal said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said yesterday that rising protectionism and trade wars and the unpredictability of the U.S. administration have greatly contributed to global oil price volatility over the past two years, Reuters reported. Oil prices have been volatile, falling by more than a third this quarter, partly due to rising oil production in the U.S. “All these uncertainties, which are now on the market: how China will behave, how India will behave... trade wars and unpredictability on the part of the U.S. administration...

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Russia's VTB to Focus on Organic Growth

VTB, Russia's second biggest bank, plans to focus on organic growth over the next three years after snapping up smaller peers to expand across the country, the bank's First Deputy Chief Executive Dmitry Olyunin said. In the past, VTB has relied on both acquisitions and organic expansion, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Its biggest deal to date was the ill-fated takeover of Bank of Moscow in 2011, then Russia's fifth biggest bank, where a big portion of bad assets was discovered during the takeover.

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Russia’s Sberbank, a key stakeholder in Croatian food producer and retailer Agrokor, has started to receive proposals to sell its share in the firm which is emerging from a debt crisis, an aide to Sberbank’s CEO said. Agrokor, the largest firm in the Balkans with over 50,000 staff, was put under state-run administration last year, crippled by debts built up during an ambitious expansion drive, Reuters reported. In October, a Croatian court approved a deal for the indebted Agrokor that includes a debt-for-equity swap.

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A deepening row between Russia and Ukraine ignited by a naval skirmish at the weekend has sparked falls in both countries’ financial markets, the Financial Times reported. Ukraine’s government bonds issued in foreign currency faced significant drops in price, which sent yields rising. Yield on a 10-year dollar-denominated bond maturing in November 2028 jumped 38.7 basis points to 10.832 per cent, its highest level since issuance. A 15-year dollar bond that matures in September 2032 faced a similar rise in yield to 10.385 per cent, also a record high for the paper.

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Russian potash producer Uralkali announced legal action against the administrators of the Force India Formula One team on Thursday after having a bid rejected in what it called a “flawed sale process,” Reuters reported. The company said in a statement it was seeking substantial damages in the London High Court for “prejudicial and unequal treatment”. Joint administrators Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker, for FRP Advisory LLP, said they were confident the claim would be dismissed “at the earliest opportunity”.
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While the war in Ukraine’s east continues to rage four years on, the battle between Russia and Ukraine is returning to the calm and order of a London courtroom. There, British judges, unwilling to play diplomat, are this week set to rule on an appeal by Ukraine that it must repay part of a $3 billion bond in default, Bloomberg News reported. The Court of Appeal will rule on the case after Russia won an early verdict last spring in a lower court. The dispute “has multiple venues, and courtrooms are one of them," said Orysia Lutsevych, a research fellow at the Chatham House thinktank in London.
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Second-round bids put in by Russia's VTB Group-backed Numetal Ltd, ArcelorMittal and Vedanta will be opened on Monday, people with direct knowledge of the development said. The Resolution Professional, overseeing the auction of Essar Steel to recover over Rs 49,000 crore of unpaid loans, sent emails to all the three bidders to be present on Monday for the opening of the second round of bids, they said. This follows an NCLAT judgement last week on the eligibility of bids.
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