(Bloomberg) -- Rosneft PJSC has begun a sales process for its German unit that owns assets including an oil refinery and would favor Berlin keeping the business in trust until that happens, Germany’s economy ministry said.

Germany seized Rosneft Deutschland GmbH not long after the war in Ukraine began and put it into trusteeship. A more recent idea was to nationalize it, a step that the Kremlin was opposed to.

“We will announce any decisions in good time, including a possible extension of the trusteeship,” a spokesperson of the economy ministry said in a statement. “Rosneft Russia has now stated that it has started a sales process and wants to finalize this during the period of a further trusteeship extension.”

Officials had started a hearing this month over what would become of the business, as the current ownership structure is due to expire on March 10. The government wants to avoid frequent renewals of the trusteeship, against which Russia has also taken legal action. Friday’s developments suggest nationalization is not a favored option.

Officials held direct talks with the Russian company’s chief executive Igor Sechin over the past few weeks — including during a visit to Turkey, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named as the matter is private.

Rosneft Deutschland holds stakes in three oil refineries, the largest being a majority holding in the key PCK Schwedt plant near Berlin.

The plant stopped taking Russian oil last year and was forced to turn to supplies from international markets. It hasn’t been able to process at full rates as a result of that.

Germany’s key priority is to secure energy supply and the operation of the oil refinery, the spokesperson said.

Rosneft didn’t immediately respond to request for a comment.


(Updates with context from fourth paragraph.)

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