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20 Sep 2023

Bloomberg News

Russia: Sberbank seeks seizure of Glencore's assets as compensation for oil debt

Russia’s largest bank tries to seize Glencore assets over oil debt, 20 September 2023

Russia’s largest bank is attempting to seize some of Glencore Plc’s Russian assets as compensation for what it says is an unpaid oil trading debt.

Sberbank PJSC is asking a Moscow court for €114.8 million ($123 million) in compensation after its Swiss commodity trading unit sold oil to Glencore but never received payment, according to documents published on the court website.

The claim highlights the precariousness of international companies’ assets in Russia since the war in Ukraine triggered several waves of sanctions and retaliatory measures. Moscow this year has seized local operations of several international holdings, including France’s Danone SA and Denmark’s Carlsberg A/S.

Still, Glencore — which has longstanding ties in Russia and whose former chief executive was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin in 2017 — has so far avoided the threat of expropriation.

In the Moscow court case...Sberbank PJSC is seeking shares in the Russian assets of Glencore as well as its grain-trading associate Viterra as compensation for the oil debt...

Glencore’s Russian assets, which Sberbank is attempting to seize, include 0.6% of oil giant Rosneft PJSC and 10.6% of En+ Group International PJSC, the parent company of Russian aluminum producer United Co. Rusal International PJSC.

Sberbank is also seeking shares in a grain trading company formerly known as Viterra Rus and a mill in Rostov region, that are a part of Rotterdam-headquartered Viterra. US agribusiness Bunge Ltd. agreed to buy Viterra for $8.2 billion in stock and cash in June.

Glencore has said it will do no new business with Russia. It has written down its stakes in Rosneft and En+ to zero, saying there is “no realistic way to exit these stakes in the current environment.” Viterra left the Russian grain export market this year. 

Glencore declined to comment. Viterra didn’t immediately comment.