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Russian farce

Russia’s planned privatisation of Bashneft is off, for now, after Rosneft made a mockery of the process

When is a privatisation not a privatisation? When the state tries to buy the asset being sold by the state. That’s what Rosneft, which controls about 38% of Russia’s crude oil output and is itself 70% owned by the state, tried to do when it officially applied on 26 July to participate in the sale of Bashneft, the crown jewel in the state’s asset sell-off. An acquisition of Bashneft would have taken Rosneft’s market share to about 41% and strengthened the state’s role in the industry. To most observers that’s the opposite purpose of privatisation. Now the whole thing has been postponed, after the government ruled that its oil champion, Rosneft, couldn’t take part. The proposed sale, in turn

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