An Italian oil firm has profited from the sell-off of the Russian oil giant Yukos. A division of the oil group Eni was the highest bidder when it offered 4.3 billion euros for part of the bankrupt energy company. The stake it secured includes 20 per cent of the state-controlled Gazprom.
Yukos was controlled by the Russian tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky until the billionaire was arrested for fraud and tax evasion in 2003 and sentenced to eight years in a Siberian penal colony. The government claimed the company owed billions in back taxes and seized the assets.
Yukos shareholders say the sell-off is illegal but the auction is just one of half a dozen planned for this spring, selling off Yukos oil fields, refineries and gasoline stations at below-market prices.