A worker looks on at the Bashneft-Ufaneftekhim oil refinery outside Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
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MOSCOW/UFA, Russia: Russia's decision to postpone the privatization of a mid-sized oil company has sent a message to investors: for all his power, President Vladimir Putin has failed to stop political infighting getting in the way of business.According to sources close to the government and Bashneft, on one side is Igor Sechin, head of state oil firm Rosneft and a Putin lieutenant. Opposing him are economic liberals in the government who believe Bashneft should be in private hands.Putin has avoided taking sides, the sources said.Foreign investors are concerned that the same fate might await other assets the Kremlin is planning to privatize, including a 25-percent stake in shipping firm Sovcomflot, which the government has said is worth 24 billion roubles ($368 million).Sistema gradually acquired shares in Bashneft and by mid-2009 had secured a controlling stake, at a cost of about $2.5 billion.Yevtushenkov also irked him by beating Rosneft to the purchase of a small oil company, Burneftegaz, in 2014, industry sources said.Sistema declined comment, but the acquisition of a stake by a major Western oil trader could have made it harder for the state to nationalise Bashneft.Yevtushenkov was accused in 2014 of misappropriating Bashneft shares and held for three months under house arrest.
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