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Antitrust agency could thwart Yukos asset buyer Prana

The Prana group, the mystery buyer of various assets of bankrupt oil company Yukos, could see its acquisition blocked by the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), said FAS head Igor Artemiev.

“We can refuse (authorization) on grounds of a non-transparent shareholding structure,” Artemiev said, but added he saw no problems on competitive grounds Prana beat out Russian oil major Rosneft at auction after almost three hours of heated bidding in which the price of lot number 13 - including its Moscow headquarters and other properties - more than quadrupled to $3.88 billion.

Analysts suggested the apparent value of the lot does not justify such a price. The Russian press has speculated for several days that one of the subsidiary companies sold in the lot could have several billion dollars in liquid assets. Asked about Unitex, a company that acquired another Yukos lot including its network of petrol stations, Artemiev said his agency was awaiting responses to questionnaires it had sent out.

“We know half of their structure, and we have a fairly clear idea of who is behind the company”, he said. Artemiev said he saw no difficulties regarding Rosneft, which won the majority of Yukos´ assets at the auction, paying nearly $21 billion. “We do not have any doubts about their structure. We will grant all authorizations to Rosneft,” he said. The bulk of Yukos´ assets have now been sold off. (