State officials leaving boardrooms

With Deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, stepping down as chairman of Rosneft, following a Presidential order for all senior officials to leave the boards of state companies, Business RT spoke with Vladimir Rozhnankovsky from Nord Capital.

RT:  Do you expect Mr Sechin to maintain influence in Rosneft after leaving the board?

VR:  “Yeah, I don’t think it’s an act of deprivation towards Mr Sechin because it was extremely difficult for him to combine two chairs.Let us not forget that he is also Chairman of InterrRAO energy systems and he also combining several other top positions in the so-called corporate government sector, therefore I don’t think it was a painful decision for him.Especially for he is going to maintain his chair until late June.So he is going to be watching the process of transferring his power to his successor.So that’s what I think, I don’t think it’s a big tragedy for him personally.”

RT:  Rosneft has announced Sechin will stay on the board until the end of June. Is he buying time in order to get the deal with BP done?

VR:  “Yeah, obviously it was a certain kind of overreaction. At least his initial comments reflected that, allow me, he was not exactly following the situation.Particularly harsh was critics towards BP, even some sort of intimidation, allow me, that if this deal doesn’t go through, there will be certain sanctions.I don’t think it was a timely action to talk like this, therefor obviously he needs to smoothly transfer this process to his successor.This is uneasy deal.He needs to pass tonnes of documentation, legal documentation, to his successor.I think this is very important deal for Rosneft.At the same time President Medvedev announced that basically government companies needs certain cleanup.They need to get rid of state officials in their board of directors, and I think it is not just an act of goodwill.This is a true reality.This is kind of down to earth decision because Rosneft is one of the companies which were announced for the privatization this year or probably the next year.The timing is extremely well for Rosneft because for the finish of the quantitative easing programme in the States, there are a lot of cash on the market and given that the oil is skyrocketing right now Rosneft could be potentially very succulent morsel for the buyers, for the Rosneft package is going to be sold to. Therefore it has to be done very quickly.And I think this is a very timely action.”

RT:  Are we going to see any major changes in other state run companies with top officials resigning?

VR:  “This is a kind of vicious circle because obviously the state undertook a major privatization of the state owned companies.This is generally a very difficult task, however the biggest challenge is that it has to meet certain criteria, otherwise they wouldn’t be successful in selling their packages to overseas, to foreign investors.Foreign investors, they are kind of upset seeing so many state officials in the board of directors.So basically a certain cleanup wouldn’t hurt, and this cleanup needs to be done sooner rather than later.Therefore I believe other companies will follow the same route.”