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Rosneft in Asset Swap With Seadrill

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Russia's OAO Rosneft on Friday shrugged off U.S. and European Union sanctions with an announcement that it had signed a deal to swap 150 rigs and cash for a 30% stake in Norway's North Atlantic Drilling (NADL - Get Report) , a unit of Seadrill (SDRL - Get Report) , the world's largest offshore drilling company.

The deal, which was worth about $746 million based on North Atlantic Drilling's closing share price on Thursday, will underpin a cooperation agreement that will give the Norwegian business access to the Russian exploration market and install two Rosneft representatives on NADL's seven-person board.

The partnership and asset swap was announced by Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin in May, but appeared in doubt after Rosneft in July joined Sechin on a list of U.S. sanction targets. Norway earlier this month joined the EU in backing the U.S. sanctions, which are linked to Russia's perceived support of separatists in the ongoing civil war in eastern Ukraine.

The possible effect of those sanctions on Rosneft came into focus earlier this week when reports emerged that a planned $2 billion oil supply deal had stalled, and possibly collapsed.

Dutch trading company Vitol Group had been due to pay the cash for future Rosneft oil deliveries, a so-called prepayment deal that would have exposed Vitol to political and financial risks and potentially the ire of western governments.

The collapse of the Vitol talks was reported by the Financial Times, which cited unnamed sources, and has not been confirmed by either the trading house or Rosneft. Neither NADL's deal nor Vitol's agreement are forbidden by the sanctions, which stopped short of prohibiting U.S. companies from doing business with Rosneft.

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