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New snag to Gazprom-Rosneft merger

The absorption of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft by the gas giant Gazprom appears to have run into trouble amid press reports yesterday of furious infighting among top Kremlin officials over the deal.

The Kommersant business daily published a letter from Rosneft chief Sergei Bogdanchikov to President Vladimir Putin dated September 20, in which he demanded that his company retain rights to its name and seats on the board of the new entity.

Rosneft's board is headed by Igor Sechin, the deputy head of the Kremlin administration. He is seen as a hawk and has clashed with the liberal members of Putin's inner circle.

Gazprom's board includes Sechin's direct boss, Dmitry Medvedev. He has instead proposed making Rosneft into a daughter company of Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer.

Kommersant reported that Putin had instructed the head of the state property management agency to look into the dispute.

The initial deal struck last month would have increased the state's stake in Gazprom from 38 percent to 51 percent.

Analysts said Rosneft's proposal would scuttle those plans.
"This implies that the development is now likely to be delayed," the United Financial Group said in a research note.

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