STEPPING DOWN FROM ROSNEFT
John Mack, the former chief executive of Morgan Stanley, is to step down from the board of Russia's state-controlled oil group Rosneft.
His move comes after the US Treasury department last month sanctioned Igor Sechin, Rosneft's president, in connection with Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Mr Mack dismissed the notion that his departure had anything to do with sanctions and said he had struck an agreement with Mr Sechin to sit on Rosneft's board for just one year.
Rosneft said Mr Mack was stepping down from the board "for personal reasons".
Mr Mack joined Rosneft's board last June after the Russian oil group bought TNK-BP for $55bn from BP and the AAR consortium. Six months later Rosneft announced it would buy Morgan Stanley's global oil trading business.
Responding to speculation that the deterioration of relations between Russia and the US could derail the deal, which is due to close in the second half of this year, Mr Sechin said last week that "so far everything is going fine".
Mr Mack will be replaced on the Rosneft board by Artur Chilingarov, a Russian arctic explorer and senator. Rosneft said in a regulatory filing that its directors last week agreed to add Mr Chilingarov to the list of candidates to be elected to the board at the annual meeting next month.
Rosneft, majority owned by the Russian government, has boosted the international business expertise on its board of directors since buying TNK-BP, a deal that transformed it into one of the world's largest energy companies.
However, the company would find it challenging to attract western executives in the current political environment, analysts said. BP, which owns a 19.75 per cent stake in Rosneft, has renominated its chief executive Bob Dudley to the company's board but chose not to exercise its right to nominate a second candidate.
At a business forum in St Petersburg last week, Mr Sechin laughed off the impact of the sanctions as he signed several dozen deals on behalf of Rosneft – including a joint venture to develop Russian shale oil assets with BP.
The US Treasury has said that the sanctions on Mr Sechin do not prohibit US citizens or companies from dealing with Rosneft – or from sitting on its board of directors.
Other US citizens on the Rosneft board include Mr Dudley and Donald Humphreys, former chief financial officer of ExxonMobil.
Mr Mack, who stepped down from his position at Morgan Stanley in 2011, is now a senior adviser at KKR and a member of several boards, including Glencore and Lending Club.
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