Maryam Nemazee: I’m Maryam Nemazee. I want to get more now on the collapse of the BP Rosneft deal. Joining me in the studio is the boss of Russia’s second largest bank, who also happens to be a member of the Rosneft Board, Andrey Kostin, Chairman and CEO of VTB joins me in the studio now. Great to have you on the show. Thanks very much for coming in and very fortunate on the day that we get these developments with the BP Rosneft deal. What is your understanding of what we’re seeing right now, because you have BP on the one hand saying that they’re very optimistic that something can be worked out; Rosneft is saying look, we’re not going to extend the deadline. Has the deal effectively collapsed?
Andrey Kostin: Well, I still believe there’s room for further talks and agreements. I think the Russian side were from the very beginning very much interested in this transaction. Of course Rosneft potentially can find other partners, but on the other hand BP was always a good partner for Russian companies, they have good experience working in Russia, so I very much hope that there will be room for further negotiations in order to find the proper solution.
Maryam Nemazee: And what do you expect to see with regard to Rosneft perhaps pursuing other avenues, other options with other partners, the likes of Royal Dutch Shell or Chevron?
Andrey Kostin: Well I don’t know at the moment, I can’t say, it’s probably too early to say, but I strongly believe that such a large project, be it on an offshore basis or in the Arctic part of Russia, should be based on international cooperation with the participation of other leading international companies, to spread the risk and to have combined efforts and to share the results. I think that’s quite important.
Maryam Nemazee: It’s not as though it has to be something that’s worked out with BP, necessarily. There’s no advantage to working with them; it would be just as advantageous to work with other international companies?
Andrey Kostin: I think Russia is quite often criticised for being too closed for foreign investors in the area of gas and oil. I think it’s a good example of cooperation. It’s not a question of important for Rosneft. I think it’s important for Russian economy in general, for investment climate, for prospects of Russian cooperation between Russian companies and international companies.
Maryam Nemazee: And when you speak about the investment climate and optimism, do you think that the fact that the deal has collapsed and obviously the government wasn’t directly involved and they said very openly they want the corporate guys to get together and just sort it out, but the fact that AAR has blocked the deal, that it generated so much uncertainty, something that was supposed to be so lucrative effectively has come to an end. Do you think that that will fuel some uncertainty, put some investors off?
Andrey Kostin: Always success is much better than failure from the point of view of publicity, but you quite correctly pointed out that the deal didn’t happen yet, not because of the bad investment climate or environment in Russia, but internal conflicts of BP and their partners. So the government has no influence on this, Russian government, and that’s something that should be sorted out within the BP company and their partners in Russia.
Maryam Nemazee: Excellent. Andrey Kostin, CEO, Chairman of VTB, wonderful to have you in the studio.