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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paper: Gazprom Wants Sibneft Cheap

Gas monopoly Gazprom is looking to buy oil firm Sibneft from core shareholders led by Roman Abramovich at a 15 percent discount, Vedomosti reported on Monday.

Vedomosti quoted sources close to negotiations as saying Gazprom wanted to pay $3 per share for Sibneft, compared with Friday's closure of $3.47.

Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, would be looking to purchase 72 percent from Sibneft's core owners and to buy another 3 percent from the market to guarantee it an outright controlling stake of over 75 percent.

The deal would cost Gazprom slightly over $10 billion, based on Sibneft's market capitalization of $16.5 billion.

Rumors about Gazprom's desire to acquire Sibneft have been on the market for several months, but the two companies have never confirmed them.

The companies declined to comment on Monday.

The first official confirmation of the acquisition talks came last Friday from President Vladimir Putin, who said he was aware of the planned transaction, but denied the Kremlin was involved in it.

Putin was speaking at the end of a week when Sibneft proposed a vast $2.3 billion dividend, which analysts said was a sign that its owners were clearing out cash before a sale.

Gazprom is widely seen as the front runner in the race for Sibneft, but its rival, state oil firm Rosneft, entered the fray on Thursday by saying it intended to hang on to a 20 percent stake in Sibneft that it is confident of being awarded in court.

Rosneft president Sergei Bogdanchikov told Kommersant that Rosneft expected to get the stake as part of debts owed to it by crippled oil firm Yukos.

The claim pits Bogdanchikov's Rosneft in a corporate battle with the much larger Gazprom for the second time in six months.

Earlier this year, it beat off a state-sponsored attempt to merge the two, embarrassing Gazprom's head, Alexei Miller, a Putin appointee who had publicly announced the merger would happen.

Putin said he was aware that officials from Gazprom and Rosneft had discussed Sibneft.

"I won't hide the fact that I met the leadership of these firms and told them that they should see this as a market deal," he told reporters at the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Analysts have said they expect Abramovich, who was named by Forbes magazine in May as Russia's richest man, with a $14.7 billion fortune, to be the main beneficiary of the battle for Sibneft.