China’s Silk Road Fund has agreed to buy a 10 per cent stake in Russia’s largest petrochemicals group, in the second major Chinese state investment in the company whose shareholders include people close to president Vladimir Putin.
Sibur, which buys and processes gas produced as a byproduct of Russia’s energy industry, announced on Wednesday that its shareholders had signed a deal for China’s Silk Road Fund – a state investment vehicle created as part of Beijing’s One Belt One Road strategy – to take a 10 per cent stake, without providing further details
Sinopec last December completed a deal to buy a 10 per cent stake in the company for $1.34bn.
Sibur’s largest shareholders include Leonid Mikhelson, chief executive of gas company Novatek and Russia’s richest man according to Forbes, who holds a stake of about 43 per cent; Kirill Shamalov, who is married to Mr Putin’s younger daughter Ekaterina, according to Reuters, and who holds a 20.9 per cent stake; and Gennady Timchenko, a friend of Mr Putin’s who was placed under sanctions by the US as a member of the Russian president’s “inner circle”, who holds a 14.2 per cent stake.
Mr Mikhelson last month told Russian newswire Interfax that he expected the 10 per cent stake in Sibur to be sold quickly, and that the deal would involve existing shareholders selling their shares.
Following Trump’s phone call on Friday evening with the Taiwan president, which led to scathing response by the US press and diplomatic corps, both of which were shocked to see Trump threaten the “One China” status quo by taking foreign policy matters into his own hands (the same media and diplomats who were just as shocked to see Trump win the presidential election) , on Sunday morning Trump got some words of encouragement from none other than Vladimir Putin, who in an interview with Russian NTV TV, said that Trump is “a clever man” and will quickly adapt to his new responsibilities and new role as president.
“Trump was an entrepreneur and a businessman. He is already a statesman, he is the head of the United States of America, one of the world’s leading countries.”
“The fact that Trump managed to achieve success in business, suggests that he is a smart man,” Putin said in the NTV interview. “And as he is smart, that means he will fully and quite quickly be aware of a different level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting this way,” he added.
Putin has spoken previously of his hope that Trump will help restore U.S.-Russia relations, and analysts said he was unlikely to want to dial up anti-Western rhetoric before Trump’s inauguration in January.
“Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if (he is) a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions,” Putin said.
Putin’s comments seemed to address criticism from Trump’s opponents who say his unconventional actions since the election – including railing at the cast of a Broadway show and early-morning invective on Twitter – show Trump is out of his depth.
The global oil market has witnessed a serious challenge of imbalance and volatility pressured mainly from the supply side. It has led to significant investment cuts in the oil industry, which has a direct impact on offsetting the natural depletion of reservoirs and in ensuring security of supply to producers.
Current market conditions are counterproductive and damaging to both producers and consumers, it is neither sustainable nor conducive in the medium- to long-term. It threatens the economies of producing nations, hinders critical industry investments, jeopardizes energy security to meet growing world energy demand, and challenges oil market stability as a whole.
There is a firm and common ground that continuous collaborative efforts among producers, both within and outside OPEC, would complement the market in restoring a global oil demand and supply balance, in particular the drawdown in the stocks overhang, which is currently at a very high level.
At this conjuncture, it is foremost to reaffirm OPEC’s continued commitment to stable markets, mutual interests of producing nations, the efficient, economic and secure supply to consumers, and a fair return on invested capital.
Consequently, the recovery of oil market balance could be addressed through dialogue and cooperation among producing countries as a way forward for cohesive, credible, and effective action and implementation. Hence, it is under the principles of good faith that countries participating in today’s meeting agree to commit themselves to the following actions:
With less than a week to go until the much anticipated OPEC meeting in Vienna on November 30, the oil exporting cartel still seems unable to determine the terms of production cut quotas, who will be exempt from cutting, and even who will participate. According to Reuters, in the latest twist to emerge, as OPEC tries to find the sweet spot for production that reduces the oversupply of crude, the organization will ask non-OPEC oil producers to also make big cuts in output, as it seeks to share the burden of declining output and prevent market share gains by non-OPEC nations.
The oil minister of Azerbaijan was quoted as saying the cartel may want non-OPEC producers to cut output by as much as 880,000 barrels per day (bpd). “It could be expected that OPEC members may ask non-OPEC countries to cut production volumes for the next six months starting from Jan. 1 2017 … by 880,000 barrels from the total daily production,” Azeri newspaper Respublika quoted the country’s oil minister, Natig Aliyev, as saying.
Reuters countered that according to an OPEC source the group had yet to decide on the final figures to be discussed on Nov. 28, when OPEC and non-OPEC experts meet in Vienna. As previously reported, OPEC is expected to discuss production cuts of 4.0-4.5% among its members at the Vienna meeting to comply with the roughly 1.2mmbpd reduction as set forth in the Algiers meeting which expects total OPEC output of 32.5-33.0mmbpd, but Iran and Iraq still have reservations about how much they want to contribute.
A cut of 80,000 bpd would represent less than 2% of current total non-OPEC output.
Russia gold buying accelerated in October with the Russian central bank buying a very large 48 metric tonnes or 1.3 million ounces of gold bullion.
This is the largest addition of gold to the Russian monetary reserves since 1998 and could be seen as a parting ‘gift’ by Putin to his rival ex-President Obama.
The Russian central bank gold purchase is the biggest monthly gold purchase of this millennium.
Concerns about systemic risk, currency wars and the devaluation of the dollar, euro and other major currencies has led to ongoing diversification into gold bullion purchases by large creditor nation central banks such as Russia and China.
Commerzbank went with the simple explanation:
“Clearly the central bank was taking advantage of the stronger ruble – which has made gold cheaper in local currency – to buy more gold.”
“By contrast, the Chinese central bank bought only around four tons of gold last month – the second-lowest gold purchases since China began publishing monthly figures back in June 2015. The currency is likely to have played a role here, too – the yuan has been depreciating noticeably since the end of September.”
However, the Russian Central Bank has quietly been buying huge volumes of gold over the last 10 years. This diversification into gold accelerated since the financial crisis and since relations with the U.S. deteriorated in recent years. Russia bought gold systematically both when the ruble was strong and when it was weak.
In 2015, Russia added a record 208 tons of gold to her reserves compared with 172 tons for 2014.
According to the World Gold Council, only the central banks of the U.S., Germany, Italy, France and China currently hold larger gold reserves than Russia.
Moments ago the Kremlin released a statement in which the Russian presidency reported that Putin and Trump held a conversation, in which the Russian leader congratulated his American counterpart again on his victory in the presidential election, wished him “success in the implementation of the pre-election program, and noted his willingness to build a partnership dialogue with the new administration on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.”
During the conversation, Putin and Trump “not only agreed to assess the current unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations, but also spoke in favor of active joint work to normalize relations and aim for constructive cooperation on a wide range of issues. The call emphasized in particular the importance of creating a solid foundation of bilateral ties through the development of trade and economic relations.
In the call, it was also noted that that “next year marks 210 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States, which in itself should stimulate a return to pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation, which would meet the interests of both countries, stability and security throughout the world.”
Putin and Trump shared thoughts on the need for joint efforts in the fight against the common enemy number one – international terrorism and extremism. In this vein, and discussed issues of the settlement of the crisis in Syria.
The two agreed to continue contact by phone and agreed to meet in person in the future.
And here is the just released readout of the call from the Trump transition team side:
Confirming what we noted in 2015, French President Francois Hollande revealed that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wanted to print Drachmas in Russia.
As KeepTalkingGreece.com details, in a book “Presidents should not talk about such things” Hollande speaks about a conservation he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin in summer of 2015, the peak of the Greek crisis before the government surrendered to the European lenders.
Hollande received a phone call by Putin who said:
“I want to give you this information. Greece asked us to print Drachmas because they have no longer a printer for this. I want to tell you that this is something [ apparently the Grexit] that we do not want.”
The book author note that this Greek request was a proof that Greece was thinking to exit the eurozone.
Hollande wondered why Putin passed him over such an information.
“Probably he [Putin] didn’t want to be considered responsible for the Grexit and to say also that a Grexit was a danger that had to be avoided.”
State television threatens the West with nuclear weapons, the Kremlin halts a disarmament treaty, the army warns of shooting down US jets. As ties between Russia and the West have once again slumped, rhetoric in Moscow has peaked.
“Relations between Russia and the US, and the West in general, have been dragged down to the bottom, to a level below which it is difficult to fall,” Konstantin Kalachev, the head of the Moscow-based Political Expert Group think tank, told AFP.
But it wasn’t meant to be like this.
Just over a month ago Moscow and Washington inked a deal to revive a ceasefire in Syria and the Kremlin seemed to have scored a tactical win by getting the United States to open the door to coordinate strikes against jihadists.
The agreement, hammered out after repeated rounds of exhausting talks, appeared a potential breakthrough in Syria’s civil war and years of bad blood and furious mudslinging between Moscow and Washington sparked by the Ukraine crisis.
Many, however, were skeptical that the Kremlin and White House, on opposite sides in Syria, could begin to bury the hatchet – and so it proved.
Soon the truce collapsed and as the violence spiraled so did the ferocious acrimony.
Washington suspended talks with the Kremlin on Syria; Moscow tore up a treaty on disposing weapons-grade plutonium; the West accused Russia and Syria of potential war crimes in its brutal attacks on rebel-held east Aleppo.
The name of what is arguably Russia’s most flamboyant, ultra-nationalist politician, and according to some the local incarnation of Donald Trump, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a deputy in the state Duma and leader of the nationalist LDPR party, is familiar to frequent readers: he most recently made an appearance on these pages two months ago, when he warned Germany that it risks utter destruction if it continued on its present track of operating Bundeswehr forces in the Baltics. Zhirinovsky also shares another feature with Donald Trump: both are outspoken to a fault. Which is why we were not surprised to read that as Reuters reported earlier, Zhirinovsky urged Americans to vote for Donald Trump as president or “risk being dragged into a nuclear war.”
In an interview with Reuters, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, known in Russia and Europe for his fiery rhetoric, said that Trump was the only person able to de-escalate dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton could spark World War Three, said the Russian who received a top state award from Putin after his pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) came third in Russia’s parliamentary election last month.