The answer of Vladimir Putin to the sanctions of Europe, UK and United States, arrived on time. A newly signed decree by the Kremlin prevents countries considered “hostile”, including Italy, from selling shares in the energy and banking sectors until the end of the year.
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The list of frozen assets and groups is expected to be finalized and released this week with input from Russian Central Bank Governor Nabiulina. But evidently the focus would be on the American giant ExxonMobil who was carrying out the exit from the expensive Shakalin-1 project together with Rosneft who would have remained with the match in hand, losing the operator of the field to which they contribute, but with roles minors, including Japanese and Indians. Looking at Italy, as reported by the newspaper Kommersant, Enel would also be part of the tightening on energy. In fact, the exit of foreign shareholders from most of the energy industry would be temporarily frozen, with particular reference to the already announced agreement for the sale by the Italian group to Lukoil and the Gazprombank-Frezia fund of its 56.43% stake. in Enel Russia (which owns three 5.6 GW power plants and two wind farms).
Of course, the decision will not be official until there is a list of companies that fall under the ban. Then, the last word will be up to Putin: the decree leaves the possibility of closing transactions with a special permission from the President.
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Enel announced in mid-June that it had reached an agreement for the exit from Russia with an operation worth 137 million euros, but to date it was still awaiting the green light of the Russian authorities to finalize it, conditioned by the local ok . And at this point it is difficult for the operation to close in the fourth quarter of the year. According to Kommersant, who also indicates the agreement for the sale of Russian assets of the Finnish Fortum among the frozen operations, the problems would not end with the missed collections. If European companies are forced to stay, under current conditions they will have to focus on finding a way to maintain and repair Western equipment in the face of heavy restrictions. Beyond the industrial holdings, however, the banks, including Unicredit, which has already significantly reduced its exposure and is working to sell and not “sell off” its assets to third countries, remain awaiting the list of “frozen” companies not affected by the sanctions. The bank’s exposure to Moscow is direct with Unicredit Bank Russia and indirectly through the activities of the German subsidiary Hvb and Corporate & Investment Banking (Cib) which operates in 50 countries. Similar speech for Intesa Sanpaolo which severely limited its exposure in the country and is evaluating its presence.
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The first European bank to leave Russia in April was Société Générale. The French group sold its entire stake in Rosbank and its insurance branches to Interros Capital, taking a loss of over three billion. The American Citi, after selling its consumer banking business in Russia, decided to keep the banking license instead.
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Meanwhile, the total embargo on coal imports from Russia starts today. With the entry into force of the sanctioning measure decided by the EU governments in April, at the end of the four-month grace period requested in particular by Germany, all exceptions are eliminated and Europe will no longer be able to buy fossil fuel from that. which so far has been its main supplier. Alone, Moscow has shipped almost half of the total EU imports until last year, with a trade exchange worth 4 billion euros. And with the generalized increases on the energy front that do not spare coal, the perfect storm ready to hit the EU this winter is enriched with a new variable: in recent weeks, in fact, the price on the Rotterdam market has reached levels four times those. registered a year ago, fixed above 300 euros per ton, up to almost 400. Despite the record level of prices and the commitment to debarbonisation, many EU states are reactivating coal-fired power plants to make up for the shortage of Russian gas. A move that will keep demand high.