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Rosneft chief wants to take $20 bln IPO global

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SURGUT, Russia, Feb 26: Rosneft President Sergei Bogdanchikov is courting investors to build the Russian state oil company's billion initial public stock offering into the main event on the world's emerging markets this year.

Bogdanchikov, an oil industry veteran with a penchant for high-octane risks, said the company has already had positive feedback from investors and will crank up efforts to drum up interest in Russia's largest-ever IPO.

Speaking to reporters in a luxury jet high over the oil fields of Siberia, Bogdanchikov said Rosneft was considering placing shares on up to seven exchanges, including London, Tokyo, New York and Frankfurt.

''Management presented to the board of directors a choice of six or seven exchanges,'' Bogdanchikov said, relaxing in the jet's plush seating. He spoke to reporters on Friday and the comments were approved for publication on Sunday.

Russia plans to sell up to 49 percent of Rosneft -- Russia's second largest oil producer -- via an international stock offering later this year during which a strategic investor could take a major stake.

''We have a clear plan for the road show and meetings with investors,'' Bogdanchikov said. ''We have already had meetings with 70 percent of the main funds.'' Rosneft, whose chairman Igor Sechin is deputy head of the Kremlin administration, leapt up the rankings last year after it took control of Yuganskneftegaz, formerly the main asset of fallen oil major YUKOS .

Bailiffs auctioned Yuganskneftegaz for .3 billion in Dec.

2004 to recover massive back taxes owed by YUKOS. Rosneft emerged as the buyer after state gas monopoly Gazprom pulled out, fearing potential legal blowback if it had bid.

STRATEGIC INVESTOR

A foreign strategic buyer could take a major stake in the IPO as long as the state kept control over Rosneft, Bogdanchikov said: ''We would recommend the owner not refuse a sale to a so-called major or a state company from another country.'' India's ONGC has been named as one potential buyer, as has China's CNPC -- which could have an advantage in any bidding contest as Rosneft heavily mortgaged its future oil sales to Chinese banks to finance the Yugansk purchase.

Around .6 billion raised from the sale of a 13 percent stake in Rosneft would go to repay money owed by its parent Rosneftegaz, set up by the Kremlin as a special-purpose vehicle to buy back majority control over Gazprom last year.

The remaining proceeds of the IPO of billion -- likely from an issue of new shares -- would pay down Rosneft's own debts, finance current spending and new investment.

Rosneft is being advised by Morgan Stanley , Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein , JP Morgan Chase and ABN AMRO . Bogdanchikov said Russian banks, in addition to Sberbank , could play a role in the domestic side of the IPO.

CONSOLIDATION CONCERN

For minority shareholders in Rosneft's subsidiaries, the company's consolidation of its units is a major concern ahead of the initial public offering.

Rosneft will propose minorities swap their stakes into shares in the parent company but has yet to name the conditions for the consolidation.

Bogdanchikov said Rosneft is continuing work to consolidate its 12 main production units. But he said a final decision on consolidating Yugansk -- in which YUKOS still owns a 23 percent non-voting stake -- had not yet been made.

''Work is going on, the structure is being more intensively researched and the list may be widened,'' he said.

REUTERS

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