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Rosneft First-Quarter Hit by Forex Losses -- Update

By James Marson and Lukas I. Alpert MOSCOW--Russia's state-run oil firm OAO Rosneft said on Wednesday that its first-quarter net profit slid by more than a 10th due to large foreign-exchange losses as the ruble plummeted against the U.S. dollar amid Russia's invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The falling profits at Rosneft, coupled with a drop in the stock price to 10-month lows after its chief executive was sanctioned by the U.S., highlight the costs that Moscow's annexation of Crimea is having on its top companies as investors flee Russian assets. Russia's ruble has fallen 8% against the dollar since the beginning of the year amid growing inflation, stagnating growth and economic uncertainty stemming from unrest in Ukraine and Western sanctions in response to the annexation. Revenue at Rosneft, the world's largest listed oil producer, jumped 69% to 1.38 trillion rubles ($3.86 billion) for the quarter, but net profit fell 14% to 88 billion rubles after it suffered a foreign-exchange loss of 84 billion rubles during the first three months of the year. The company ramped up oil and liquids production by 5% to 5.1 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, saying it had slowed output declines at key brownfields. Rosneft stock inched upward Wednesday against a flat market in Moscow. Its share price had slipped to 10-month lows Monday after the U.S. added CEO Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to its sanctions list in response to the Ukraine conflict. Rosneft's share price recovered Tuesday after Rosneft announced it would raise dividends for 2013 by two-thirds on the previous year. Standard & Poor's rating agency cut Rosneft's credit ratings to BBB- Monday, days after cutting Russia's sovereign rating to the same level, the lowest investment grade. Mr. Sechin didn't take part in the company's conference call about the company's results on Wednesday. Executives on the call didn't take questions from the media and weren't asked about the sanctions by analysts. "This year our focus remains on implementing strategic priorities," Mr. Sechin said in a statement accompanying the results. He said the company was accelerating an efficiency drive and using its healthy cash flow, which nearly quadrupled to 121 billion rubles in the first quarter, to pay off debt taken to buy a competitor last year ahead of schedule. The falling profit and sanctions against Mr. Sechin are also raising questions for BP PLC , the U.K. oil major that owns a near-20% stake in Rosneft. BP exited its fractious TNK-BP partnership in search of a more stable partnership. U.S. nationals aren't allowed to do business with Mr. Sechin, but may deal with the company as he isn't a majority owner. BP CEO Bob Dudley, a U.S. national who sits on Rosneft's board, has said he intends to continue participating in meetings. Write to James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com and Lukas I. Alpert at lukas.alpert@wsj.com

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