Russia opens subsoil for foreign companies

The government may ease operation conditions of foreign state-owned companies in Russia. Until now, they could get in projects of strategic deposits development in the country not more than 25%. Primarily, this liberalization aims to attract investors from China, India and the Middle East. Primarily state-owned companies conduct international expansion just in these countries, and Russia will reorient to partnership with them in condition of conflict with the West over the Ukraine.

The Government has instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Economy and FAS to consider whether to give foreign investors the opportunity to increase their share in companies, which develop subsoil plots of federal importance (large deposits of oil, gas, gold, nickel, platinum and copper) in excess of the limit, set by the legislation. This topic was raised by CEO of Metalloinvest Andrei Varichev at the Cabinet’s meeting on July 10; he offered to amend the law "in terms of increasing the possibility of the presence of foreign investors – certainly, through consideration by the Government Commission - from 25% to 49%". According to him, such measures are necessary for the development of large deposits, in particular to attract project financing.

Now, according to the federal law 57, there is a special procedure of foreign investments in companies that hold licenses for subsoil plots of federal importance. These companies are considered to be controlled by a foreign investor if it has a share of 25% or more.

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