RUSSIAN - GERMAN OIL
FT - Gerhard Schröder, the former German chancellor, looks set to deepen his already close ties with the Russian energy sector, after he was nominated as an independent director to the board of state-controlled oil company Rosneft.
The 73-year-old Mr Schröder, who has long enjoyed a close relationship with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, has been chairman of the gas pipeline consortium Nord Stream since 2005, the year he was voted out of office.
Nord Stream operates a pipeline running under the Baltic Sea that brings Russian gas to Germany and is 51 per cent owned by Gazprom. Last year, Mr Schröder switched to become manager of Nord Stream 2, an expansion of the original pipeline, of which Gazprom is sole shareholder.
Mr Schröder's appointment to a senior role in a commercial project he had championed while in government proved highly controversial at the time, with many German politicians accusing him of an ethical lapse. He has consistently denied he had done anything wrong.
But joining the Rosneft board could prove equally contentious. Since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, the company has been under western sanctions that restrict its access to foreign capital and technology. Rosneft's chief executive, Igor Sechin, a close confidante of Mr Putin, was also hit with a travel ban and asset freeze.
Rosneft is a publicly listed company with international shareholders — BP owns 20 per cent — but a controlling 50 per cent stake is held by the Russian state and it is often seen as a conduit for Kremlin policies.
A government resolution published late on Friday and signed by Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev lists a number of candidates for the Rosneft board. Those representing the Russian government are Andrey Belousov, an economic adviser to Mr Putin, and Mr Sechin, who are both already board members, as well as Alexander Novak, the Russian energy minister.
Those nominated to be independent directors are Mr Schröder, as well as three men who are already on the board: Matthias Warnig, managing director of Nord Stream; Donald Humphreys, a former ExxonMobil executive; and Oleg Vyugin, an academic and former Russian deputy finance minister.
If all the nominees are elected, Rosneft's board would expand from nine members to 11. Elections will be held at a shareholders' meeting on September 29.
Mr Schröder was also a member of the board of TNK-BP, a joint venture between BP and a group of Soviet-born oligarchs. TNK-BP was acquired by Rosneft in 2013.
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