The sale of almost a fifth of the state-majority controlled Rosneft oil company is a part of Russia's privatisation plan. Given the pressures from western sanctions and low oil prices, the sale of Rosneft shares to foreign investors, announced on December 7, came as a surprise to many. Preliminary reports said the buyer is a joint venture of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and the world's second largest oil trader, Swiss-based Glencore (in which QIA is the largest shareholder). The joint venture buys 19.5 % stake in Rosneft. The deal, worth around €10.5 billion, has already been included in this year's federal budget income figures.
Implementation of Russia's privatisation programme has been repeatedly postponed due to unfavourable market conditions. Pressure to restart the programme was given impetus from low oil prices and rising federal budget deficits. The government earlier this year sold for example its majority stake in the Bashneft oil company to Rosneft, as well as its 10.9 % stake in diamond giant Alrosa to private investors. In all sales, the federal government, a regional government or a state-owned enterprise continues to have majority control. The Russian state still has a 50 % stake in Rosneft.