By Dmitry Zhdannikov, Nidhi Verma and Katya Golubkova LONDON/NEW DELHI/MOSCOW (Reuters) – A multi-billion-dollar Russian deal to buy Indian refiner Essar was nearly sunk at the eleventh hour by a rival bid from Saudi Arabia as the two oil superpowers vie for supremacy across the world. The deal between Essar and a consortium led by Kremlin oil giant Rosneft appeared dead in the water two months ago after Saudi state energy firm Aramco weighed in, according to seven Russia, India and Saudi-based industry sources familiar with or involved in the negotiations. It was salvaged due to the involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who were keen for it go through, and after the consortium agreed to pay $13 billion – more than double what Rosneft had initially valued Essar at, sources told Reuters.
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