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Oleg Deripaska cancels 2007 deal to acquire Russneft firm

Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska has pulled out of a deal struck in 2007 to acquire oil firm Russneft from its founder, Mikhail Gutseriyev.

The deal was reversed because Deripaska failed to win permission from the Russian government’s commission on foreign investment in strategic industries.

Approval from the commission, chaired by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, was necessary because Deripaska used offshore vehicles for the deal. Last month, Deripaska, Russia’s most heavily indebted tycoon, wrapped up talks to restructure $16.8bn of debt for his firm UC Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminium producer. He wants to sell a 10 per cent stake in Rusal this month.

Deripaska took a $2.7bn loan from Sberbank to acquire Russneft from Gutseriyev for $3bn in 2007
when the businessman fled Russia chased by police over unpaid taxes.

The head of Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog Igor Artemyev said the deal's structure involved hundreds of offshore firms and the government’s commission needed time to look into it. The deal’s structure is thought to have involved hundreds of offshore firms.