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Swiss bank loses role as Russian government adviser

Lukoil runs a network of petrol stations across the former Soviet Union

(Keystone Archive)

The Russian government has reportedly decided to sack the Swiss investment bank, Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), as adviser on the planned sale of its stake in the oil group, Lukoil. The decision comes amid accusations of a conflict of interest.

Russia's Federal Property Fund appointed CSFB last year to advise on the sale of a six per cent stake in Lukoil. The sale would leave the government with a residual eight per cent stake in the company.

But Dmitry Mazepin, the Fund's deputy head, said the Russian government had decided to sack CSFB because it had behaved in an "unethical" manner.

He told the newspaper "Vremiya Novostei" that the bank had failed to inform the government that it had signed a separate contract with the British oil group, BP, to dispose of its seven per cent stake in Lukoil.

Mazepin said the deal with BP had resulted in Lukoil shares being sold at "throw-away prices", which had dragged down the market.

The price of the Russian oil group fell by some 10 per cent when it was announced that BP had sold a combination of Lukoil shares and exchangeable bonds for $650 million (SFr1072.5 million).

CSFB has made no official comment on the reports.

However, Mazepin said the bank had blamed its Moscow and London offices for failing to co-ordinate with each other and exchange relevant information.



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