MILAN (Reuters) - Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) is still deciding whether to help fund the acquisition of a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft (ROSN.MM) from the Russian state and said it was not aware of any investigation by the Italian or other European authorities into the transaction.
Earlier this month Russia sold the state-owned stake in Rosneft for 10.5 billion euros (8.8 billion pounds) to Qatar’s sovereign investment fund and commodities trader Glencore (GLEN.L).
Intesa, Italy’s biggest retail bank, is advising Rosneft’s state shareholder and majority owner Rosneftegaz on the sale, part of the Kremlin’s privatisation drive.
But while Rosneft is subject to EU and US sanctions following Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014 Intesa said Rosneftegaz itself is not subject to any sanctions.
“(The bank’s) potential involvement in the financing of a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft ... is still under evaluation,” Intesa said.
Sources familiar with the transaction said earlier this month Intesa was expected to provide Qatar and Glencore with sizeable funds to help finance their purchase.
But on Friday the Financial Times said regulators in Rome were examining whether Intesa’s financing of the investment complied with sanctions involving Russia.
“To our knowledge this transaction is not currently subject to any investigation by the relevant Italian and European authorities,” a spokesman for Intesa said.
Intesa, which has been present in Russia for around 40 years, has an extensive business overseeing many investments by Italian companies in Russia and vice versa.
Italy has maintained close ties with the Kremlin despite the EU sanctions.
In a separate development, Intesa agreed on Thursday last week to pay a $235 million fine to New York state’s financial regulator for anti-money laundering failures and violations of bank secrecy laws.
Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Valentina Za, Greg Mahlich