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11

Total-Novatek Deal Approval Postponed

Anti-Monopoly Service head Igor Artemyev said on Tuesday that he would delay the approval of a deal between French oil major Total and...

Russia?s Anti-Monopoly Service head Igor Artemyev said on Tuesday that he would delay the approval of a deal between French oil major Total and Russia?s independent gas producer Novatek until after Novatek?s planned initial share placement.

Last September the French group planned to buy a blocking stake in Novatek, Russia?s fastest growing private gas company.

The deal has become bogged down by a Russian antitrust investigation and wrangling over price. In March Novatek demanded from Total to pay more than the originally-announced price of $1 billion for the 25 percent stake. In April the Russian company said that Total could get a smaller stake. Novatek argues that it has restructured and consolidated its assets and is now worth more money.

Igor Artemyev said: ?The Anti-Monopoly Service will consider Total?s application for Novatek shares after Novatek finishes reorganization and makes an IPO.?

In February, Novatek sold about 3 percent of its shares to institutional investors. The International Finance Corporation has said it was ready to buy up to 1 percent of shares from shareholders for up to $35 million.