Russian mid-sized oil companies Russneft and Bashneft will merge in two or three years to create a company with annual output equal to 30 million tonnes of crude, Russneft shareholder said today. "In the future we are considering an initial public offering of the united company," Mikhail Gutseriyev told Vedomosti newspaper in the first interview after his return from a self-imposed exile in the UK. "We will create a large international company but only if the authorities will passively observe this process. We need nothing else from them," he said, according to a Reuters report. He said he maintains full operational control of Russneft.
Gutseriyev, the founder of Russneft, returned to Russia this month after living abroad in exile for more than two years to escape criminal charges, which have since been dropped. Gutseriyev praised controlling shareholder of the industrial holding Sistema billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov for the role he played in convincing officials and law enforcement agencies that Gutseriyev was innocent. "He had no personal interests and did not ask me for anything," Gutseriyev said. Gutseriyev said he planned to redeem the company's debt to Sberbank , the company's main creditor and minority shareholder, by 2015 and increase Russneft's output by 1 million tonnes this year and further to 15 million tonnes in 2011.
He said he planned to raise annual output to 20 million tonnes and make a $1.5 billion annual profit in the next few years. He said Russneft would not be able to pay dividends for the next 10 years. Gutseriyev said trader Glencore will take a stake in the merged company after converting Russneft's debt and shares in affiliates into the shares of the new company. He said Russneft signed an open dated crude export contract with Glencore. "The condition put forward by (Sberbank's chief executive) German Gref and Yevtushenkov was to take Glencore's rights fully into account. I will only be happy if Glencore takes part in Russneft's management," he said.