Rosneft has struck a deal with a group of Italian shareholders that will give it control over a 13 per cent stake in Italy's Pirelli, making it the single biggest shareholder in the tyremaker.
The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions of Italian companies by foreign players that are snapping up assets as the country shows first signs of emerging from its longest recession in 70 years.
It also coincided with debt-burdened German utility RWE striking a deal to sell its oil and gas production arm DEA to a group of investors led by Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman, valuing the unit at about €5.1 billion, including debt.
The deals come as East-West relations are hit by the crisis in Crimea, where a referendum vote in favour of joining Russia has intensified calls in the West for sanctions. European Union foreign ministers will agree asset freezes and travel bans on Russian individuals, British foreign secretary William Hague said. None of the companies involved in the two latest deals initially mentioned the Crimea situation as a likely threat to their completion.
A spokesman for RWE said the group had informed the German government about the transaction, a standard procedure for deals of this magnitude, and received no indication that Berlin would be opposed to it.
A spokesman at Pirelli had no immediate comment.
Under the terms of the Pirelli deal, which was announced yesterday, the Russian oil major will own 50 per cent of a new holding company that will end up with 26.2 per cent of Pirelli.
The remaining 50 per cent of the holding company will belong to a financial group 80 per cent owned by an investment vehicle of Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera called Nuove Partecipazioni. The other 20 per cent will be split between Italian banks Intesa and UniCredit. The banks said in a joint statement the deal valued Pirelli shares at €12 each, equivalent to Friday's closing level. – ( Reuter s )