Crude Power

Sergey Bogdanchikov would like you to meet Rosneft, a thoroughly modern, reliable Russian oil company with impeccable management and enormous profit potential. That, at least, is the pitch that Bogdanchikov, Rosneft's president, has been making vigorously to investors over the past few weeks, hoping to lure them into a stock listing in London and Moscow later this month that could raise as much as $11.7 billion, making the company worth up to $80 billion.

It seems like a compelling story: Rosneft's oil reserves are vast, its costs are low by international standards, and the fact that it...

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