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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LUKoil to Become U.S. Brand

DAVOS, Switzerland -- LUKoil plans to rebrand its U.S. gas stations with its own name, giving the oil heavyweight the biggest public presence of any Russian firm in North America, a board member said Thursday.

The project, expected to eliminate the Getty and Mobil brand names from around 2,760 stations from Maine to Virginia, seeks to capitalize on Russia's positive image among the American public, said Richard Matzke, chairman of the strategic and investment committee of LUKoil's board of directors.

"You couldn't buy that for all the money in the world, and it makes a good commentary on the state of U.S.-Russian relations," Matzke said on the sidelines of the Davos economic summit. "Russia and Russians are not unpopular in the U.S."

The move would give LUKoil, Russia's largest oil company, the highest profile branding of any Russian company in the United States, he said. "There's not a single Russian business logo hanging in the U.S. of any substantial size."

The project, expected to last four years, will result in some stations being closed, he said.

To supply the stations, LUKoil plans to ship Russian oil products via newly built terminals in the Baltic Sea to the United States, where it will almost certainly require some form of processing or refining to meet U.S. specifications, he said.

To that end, LUKoil is considering taking an equity stake or a long-term lease on a U.S. processing facility, Matzke said.

He said that the company would evaluate a U.S. stock market listing over time as turnover in the company's shares continues to increase on the London Stock Exchange.