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End game seen in YUKOS saga


End game seen in YUKOS saga


The Russian government is taking the final steps in what could be the de facto renationalisation of the country’s biggest oil company YUKOS. An auction date and price has been set for the firm’s core production unit, Yuganskneftegaz. The sale is to settle tax demands which YUKOS says it could pay if its bank accounts had not been frozen by the authorities. YUKOS has just been hit with a further tax bill of 4.6 billion euros on top of the 14.2 billion euros total so far.

The sale of Yuganskneftegaz’s voting shares opens on 19 December with bids starting at 6.65 billion euros. Most analysts doubt that any foreign companies will take part, given the uncertainty about future tax demands and possible law suits from investors. That makes it likely a state-owned firm, such as the gas monopoly Gazprom, will move in. As the sale was announced, YUKOS’ shares fell sharply, again. They have dropped 46.3% this month alone. The Kremlin is widely believed to have targeted Yukos after its founder and former chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, decided to use his massive fortune to fund a political career. He is currently on trial on tax evasion and fraud charges after being arrested a year ago. YUKOSCEO, Steven Theede, called the Yuganskneftegaz sale “a government-organised theft to settle a political score”
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