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Buyer of Yukos assets is Deutsche Bank-owned company, agency says

The little-known company that on Tuesday bought over $130 million in assets from bankrupt Russian oil firm Yukos is connected to Deutsche Bank, Interfax reported.

The company, Monte Velle, on Tuesday scooped up the 10 former Yukos assets, most of them Russian-based electricity generation and distribution networks, for $138 million. Citing what it called an 'informed source' on Wednesday, Interfax said money advanced by Monte Velle was moved from a Deutsche Bank account by UFGIS Trading Limited, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank's 100%-owned Russian office, Deutsche UFG. It is unclear what Deutsche Bank's plans for the assets may be. Analysts told the news agency the bank could offer them to Russian or other companies, including Russia's Unified Energy Systems or Germany's E.ON.

After presenting its winning bid, the obscure Monte Velle was widely speculated by Russian media to be a proxy for a larger company, as has often happened in the Yukos asset auctions. Of the three other bidders for the assets in Moscow on Tuesday, two firms were relative unknowns and the third was a subsidiary of Rosneft, Russia's state-owned oil firm that has bought a number of former Yukos assets.

Monte Velle, Interfax said, was registered in Moscow in 2003 by a US citizen named Steven Patrick Lynch. Many Western firms have been hesitant to join in the bidding for Yukos' assets, as the fallen oil major's shareholders have threatened legal action against the buyers of assets they say have been unlawfully seized. Yukos collapsed in the wake of the 2003 arrest of its founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for $25 billion in tax fraud. Khodorkovsky's supporters say the charges were motivated by his political ambitions. The company declared bankruptcy last August. (