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Yukos's Gazprom Neft stake, gas assets go to auction

Russia will auction off OAO Yukos Oil Co.'s natural-gas assets, including a stake in OAO Gazprom's oil arm, in a sale that will decrease the value of what was the once the country's biggest oil exporter by a fifth.

Yukos's 20% stake in OAO Gazprom Neft will be offered in one lot with 21 other Yukos assets for 145 billion rubles ($5.5 billion) on April 4 under bankruptcy proceedings, Nikolai Lashkevich, a spokesman for Eduard Rebgun, Yukos's court-appointed manager, said by phone yesterday. The lot includes OAO Arcticgaz and ZAO Urengoil, Yukos's natural gas units. President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin is bolstering its control over the nation's resource wealth and is completing the takeover of Yukos assets from Mikhail Khodorkovsky after bankrupting the company with billions of dollars in tax claims in 2006. Gazprom is the most likely bidder especially as „no company in Russia needs a reason to avoid bidding for the Gazprom Neft stake,” said Dmitry Lukashov, an analyst at Alfa Bank in Moscow. „Combining the Gazprom Neft stake with gas assets looks favorable for Gazprom.” Yukos kept its stake in Gazprom Neft after a takeover attempt failed because of tax investigations that led to the oil company's bankruptcy. Gazprom later bought 73% of Gazprom Neft for $13.1 billion, raising the state's stake in the oil industry to almost a third.

Italy's Eni SpA said last week it would bid for Arcticgaz and Urengoil, which hold licenses to develop gas fields in the Yamal-Nenetsk region of western Siberian. Gazprom also has licenses to gas fields in that area, as does a unit of TNK-BP, BP Plc's Russian venture. TNK-BP had expressed interest in Arcticgaz. Eni, Europe's fourth-biggest oil company, is negotiating with Gazprom to gain rights to Russian oil and gas resources in exchange for access to Italy's market. Yukos's total assets were valued at between $25.6 billion and $26.8 billion, with a liquidation discount of as much as 30% on some assets, Interfax reported yesterday, citing Rebgun. Yukos owes creditors 709 billion rubles.
The Gazprom Neft stake was valued by appraisers at 111.3 billion rubles, Interfax reported February 21, citing a person close to the creditors committee. A 20% stake in Gazprom Neft is worth 98.1 billion rubles, based on today's share price of 103.40 rubles on the Micex stock exchange. The shares have plunged 13% since February 22, when Gazprom announced it would move the oil company's export sales under the control of its OOO Gazprom Export unit.

Gazprom allocated $3.75 billion to buy the stake in its investment program last year, Vedomosti reported February 26. Yukos's 9.44% stake in state-controlled OAO Rosneft will be offered March 27 in a single lot with promissory notes issued by its former unit OAO Yuganskneftegaz, for 195.5 billion rubles. That implies an 18% discount from the stake's $8.8 billion market price when the sale was announced February 22. Rosneft bought Yugansk, tripling its oil output, for $9.3 billion after the government seized it and sold it at auction to recover back tax claims from Yukos. (Bloomberg)