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Rosneft wins Yukos assets

Russian state-owned oil major OAO Rosneft bought a 9.44% share of its own stock from bankrupt oil firm OAO Yukos on Tuesday, in an auction the state company was widely expected to win.

Represented by OOO RN-Razvitiye, a subsidiary created to represent OAO Rosneft at the auction, the state oil company paid 197.84 billion rubles (7.6 billion dollars) for the share. With the company's market capitalization at $89.04 billion on Tuesday, the stake was worth $8.4 billion. The only other company bidding for the stake in Russia's leading gas company was TNK-BP, a Russian-based joint venture between Britain's BP and a consortium of Russian businessmen. TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil producer, was also represented by a subsidiary, Samotlorneftegaz. The auction took place amid increased police presence in Yukos' corporate headquarters, a high-rise built over Paveletsky Train Station in southern Moscow when Yukos was the nation's top oil producer.

Yukos heads Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev were arrested in 2003 on charges of tax fraud and sentenced to eight years in prison in 2005. The state said Yukos owed $25 billion in back taxes, and the company, now worth an estimated $22 billion, was declared bankrupt in August. Critics call the charges an attempt to suppress Khodorkovsky's political ambitions.

TNK-BP's Samotlorneftegaz opened the bidding for the Yukos asset with a figure of 195 billion rubles. Razvitiye bid 196.52 billion rubles, and, as Russian news agency Interfax reported, within two minutes Razvitiye had won with a bid of 197.84 billion rubles. The auction lasted approximately 10 minutes. The sale of Yukos' Rosneft stake comes as Yukos' bankruptcy managers prepare to sell Samaraneftegaz and Tomskneft, oil production units that pump out much of Yukos' 400,000 barrels per day. An earlier auction in December 2004 auction saw Rosneft acquire Yuganskneftegaz, Yukos' largest production unit, at a sharply discounted price. „We were ready for the competition,” a Rosneft spokesman was quoted by Interfax as saying after Tuesday's auction. He added the company would use its new shares to acquire shares „in Russia and abroad.”

Yukos bankruptcy manager Eduard Rebgun, who has applied for a seat on Rosneft's board of directors, said he was satisfied with the auction, calling it an „open process,” Interfax reported. Yukos' creditors' committee said it would determine how to divide funds the company received for the Rosneft share „in the nearest future.” (