LUKOIL seen to agree loan
Russia's LUKOIL has agreed with banks on raising a major loan that will allow it to purchase a significant stake in Spanish energy major Repsol, government and industry sources told Reuters.
"I know that LUKOIL has closed the deal to attract money on Repsol," said a Russian government source, who asked not to be named. He did not give the size of the loan, neither did he say whether it was a foreign or a Russian loan.
A source close to LUKOIL confirmed information about the loan: "Yes we have raised the loan, but haven't closed the deal (to buy into Repsol) yet," he said.
LUKOIL's spokesman denied the company had raised the loan: "It is not true," he said, declining further comment.
LUKOIL has long declined to acknowledge it was in talks over buying a stake of up to 30 percent in Repsol, and last week its chief executive, Vagit Alekperov, said his firm had not agreed a deal.
Minority shareholders in LUKOIL, Russia's No.2 oil producer, have raised concerns about the deal, which could cost over 10 billion euros (9.28 billion pounds), and said they would prefer to see LUKOIL invest in production at home
LUKOIL, Russia's largest private oil producer, has long pursued expansion abroad as a move that would not only help it rival global majors but also give it a bigger diplomatic role in a resurgent and increasingly assertive Russia.
Russian officials have refrained from commenting on the deal, but earlier this month Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said the government was prepared to give political backing to the bid should LUKOIL ask for it.
Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian has said LUKOIL's stake in Repsol should be capped.
A second source close to the talks said he believed LUKOIL had dropped plans to buy 30 percent in Repsol and would buy less in order to avoid making a buy-out offer.
"LUKOIL wants to buy at 22 euro (per Repsol share), not at 28 euro as the Spanish want. I have a feeling they want to agree on the price before Christmas," he said.
Sources have told Reuters that LUKOIL is talking to Spanish builder Sacyr Vallehermoso and savings bank La Caixa about buying out their stakes in Repsol.