Russian shares down, Rosneft underperforms

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Moscow - Shares in Russia's Rosneft fell more than the broad MICEX index on Monday after an international court ordered Moscow to pay $51 billion for expropriating the assets of the now-defunct oil producer Yukos, most of which were acquired by Rosneft in auctions.

At 13:00 SA time, Rosneft was trading 2.7 percent lower on MICEX, underperforming the rouble-denominated index, which was 2 percent lower at 1,358.9 points.

The dollar-denominated RTS was down 2.8 percent at 1,210 points after the decision by the arbitration court in The Hague, potentially a big hit for a Russian economy teetering on the brink of recession.

“This decision will definitely not increase the attractiveness of the Russian stock market,” said Yuri Selyandin, senior portfolio manager at the investment firm GHP Group in Moscow.

“There are risks, as Rosneft is a state-controlled company. While for now Western partners have not declared a termination of participation in joint projects, if the situation develops negatively, this cannot be ruled out.”

Rosneft, Russia's top oil producer, is not a defendant in the case and said it did not expect any claims to be made against it in connection with the court ruling.

But as Rosneft is on a list of assets the state wants to privatise, the ruling complicates matters, Selyandin said.

“Considering the onslaught of negative news, it will be harder to find buyers for the company's shares.”

Denis Poryvai, an analyst at Raiffeisen bank in Moscow, said the market was generally more worried about possibility of new sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine.

“Against the background of the sanctions that the EU is mulling against Russia this week, (the court decision) is secondary news for the market,” Poryvai said.

The European Union outlined an agreement on Friday to impose a new round of economic sanctions to punish Russia for failing to rein in pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The rouble, meanwhile, traded 0.7 percent down against the dollar and the euro, at 35.37 and 47.53 roubles respectively.

This left the Russian currency 0.7 percent weaker at 40.84 against the dollar-euro basket the central bank uses to gauge the nominal exchange rate. - Reuters

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