MOSCOW, December 1 (RAPSI) – Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a directive to withhold 19.5 percent of Rosneft shares for privatization, the government said on its website on Monday.

The government plans to sell up to 2.07 billion shares (19.5 percent) of Rosneft stock, reducing its stake in the country’s largest oil producer from 69.5 percent to 50 percent plus one share.

The approval of this transaction would allow Rosneftegaz, which owns 69.50 percent of Rosneft and 10.74 percent of Gazprom, to sell the planned stake at a price comparable to the company’s initial public offering in 2006.

In July 2006, Rosneft sold 15 percent of its shares for about $10.6 billion or $7.55 per share. The current price of Rosneft shares on the Moscow Exchange is 233.70 rubles (about $5). This is 10 percent higher than in 2006 in rubles but considerably lower in terms of dollar.

Rosneft head Igor Sechin told journalists they viewed the government’s idea of the company’s staged privatization positively. He said in this case Rosneft shares would cost $8.12.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said last August that the privatization of a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft was planned for 2015 and was expected to earn the budget 423 billion rubles ($9 billion). He said the receipts would go to Rosneftegaz and from there to the budget and for other purposes that will be coordinated with the government.