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Assets in bankrupt Yukos oil company to be auctioned March 27

Assets in bankrupt Yukos oil company to be auctioned March 27

Assets of OAO Yukos, once Russia's biggest oil producer, will be sold at an auction March 27 as the company's liquidation gets under way, the government announced Thursday.
Bankrupted and burdened with billions of dollars in back tax debts, Yukos is already a shadow of its former self: Its million-barrels-per-day subsidiary Yuganskneftegaz was auctioned in 2004 to cover a part of the disputed tax bill and was later acquired by state-controlled oil company OAO Rosneft _ which is expected to dominate the forthcoming sales.
On the block at the end of March will be Yukos' 9.44 percent stake in Rosneft at a starting price of some US$7.3 billion (euro5.6 billion), said Nikolai Lashkevich, a spokesman for Yukos' bankruptcy supervisor. That represents a discount of about 20 percent to its current market value.
The lot, which was officially announced in the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, will also include promissory notes at a starting price of US$136 million (euro104 million).
Critics say the effective renationalization of most of Yukos and the jailing of its former owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky on fraud charges was an attempt to silence an influential billionaire who challenged the Kremlin and a move to cement state control over the crucial oil sector.
The company's remaining assets include some 470,000 barrels per day of potential production capacity as well as several refineries.
Next up, Lashkevich said, would be Yukos' 20 percent stake in state-controlled oil company OAO Gazprom Neft. He said the price and date could be announced as early as next week. News reports have suggested the starting price of that stake will be close to its market value of around US$4 billion (euro3 billion). The shares are expected to be bought by Gazprom Neft's majority owner, state gas monopoly OAO Gazprom, which is also considered a major contender in the sales.
Interest in the auctions has been broad: Bankruptcy officials say U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. has inquired about participating, as well as other foreign companies. Chevron has declined to comment.
Were Chevron to bid it would mark a striking change in attitude toward the events around Yukos. The U.S. administration and industry officials have criticized the legal campaign, saying it raised questions about the rule of law and the sanctity of property rights in Russia.
Khodorkovsky and business partner Platon Lebedev, who are already serving eight-year sentences, were indicted on new money laundering and theft charges at the start of the month, which could see their prison terms raised to 15 years.
In a statement posted on the Web site of Khodorkovsky's supporters Wednesday, his lawyers contended that he ran a legitimate business structure that prosecutors are seeking to cast in their new charges as a criminal operation.
In the charges, the lawyers said, prosecutors essentially reproduced the tycoon's professional resume "but changed the words 'company management' to 'organized criminal group', 'deal' to 'embezzlement,' 'financial report' to 'false documentation.'"


Updated : 2021-10-17 20:47 GMT+08:00