A final chapter has opened in the forced dismemberment of what was Russia’s largest oil company, the now bankrupt Yukos. At a Moscow auction state-owned energy firm Rosneft bought back almost 9,5% of its own shares that had been owned by Yukos, paying 5.7 billion euros. The other participant was a subsidiary of British joint venture TNK-BP.
The shares were sold for 10% below the current market price. Bankruptcy commission spokesman Nikolay Lashkevich explained the low price. He said: “This was a bankruptcy procedure, as a result there are these kind of discount prices, these prices can happen. But in this case we think the price was normal, it was a real price.”
This is the first in a series of auctions of Yukos assets; they include its 20% holdings in the former Sibneft, which has been renamed Gazprom Neft. Also on the block will be a 49% in a Slovakian oil pipeline and up to 600,000 barrels a day of oil output.
It is the final break-up of the energy empire founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky who is in prison serving eight years for fraud and tax evasion. He claims the Kremlin fabricated the charges to punish his political ambitions. Khodorkovsky bought the energy assets for what became Yukos from the Russian government at an auction in 1996 as part of a privatisation process that critics said was a sell-off to cronies of the Kremlin’s then occupant President Boris Yeltsin.