September 10, 2017 / 4:50 PM / 2 years ago

Russia's Rosneft not seeking Sistema's assets: CEO

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM) said on Sunday his company was not seeking the frozen assets of Sistema as it presses its multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the business conglomerate.

FILE PHOTO - The shadow of a worker is seen next to a logo of Russia's Rosneft oil company at the central processing facility of the Rosneft-owned Priobskoye oil field outside the West Siberian city of Nefteyugansk, Russia, August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

A court in the Russian region of Bashkortostan ruled last month that Sistema should pay Rosneft 136.3 billion roubles ($2.4 billion) to settle a claim that Rosneft-controlled oil producer Bashneft (BANE.MM) was stripped of assets when Sistema was the owner.

Sistema has rejected the claim as groundless and said it would appeal against the court decision. It has appealed against asset freezes imposed as part of the litigation but its latest request was turned down by a court last Tuesday.

The dispute has rekindled broader fears about investor rights in Russia and some observers have speculated about the redistribution of wealth among Russian elites.

“We in no way foresaw ... our owning these stakes,” TASS news agency quoted Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin as telling state Russian television, referring to the frozen assets.

“For us it’s sufficient that Sistema settles our claims which the court has recognized,” Sechin was quoted as saying in the interview broadcast on Sunday.

He added Rosneft was ready to help Sistema arrange credit lines with the banks to repay the damage award.

Last Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had met Sechin as well as Vladimir Yevtushenkov, chairman and main owner of Sistema, and that an amicable agreement would benefit both companies and the Russian economy as a whole.

The court froze 185 billion roubles ($3.2 billion) worth of Sistema’s assets in June, including 31.76 percent of shares in Russia’s top mobile operator MTS (MTSS.MM).

If Sistema loses its appeal, it will be able to raise the money from banks and has no plans to sell its shares in MTS, Sistema CEO Mikhail Shamolin said in August.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Gareth Jones

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