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Russia: Regulator approves Rosneft’s purchase of Yukos assets

Russia’s anti-monopoly authority informed yesterday it would approve state-controlled crude producer Rosneft’s acquisition of Yukos assets purchased at the bankrupt company’s auctions.

At the same time, Unitex, which purchased Yukos´ network of filling stations, will have to disclose its ownership structure to receive the regulator´s approval, Igor Artemyev, head of the anti-monopoly service said. Yukos, once Russia´s largest oil company, was declared bankrupt on August 1, 2006, after three years of litigation with tax authorities over the company´s tax arrears. At the liquidation auctions held in late March-May, Rosneft bought Yukos´s 9.44% stake in its capital, and also acquired Yukos´s other oil assets.

Yukos, whose founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year prison term in Siberia after being convicted of fraud in May 2005, faces a total of more than 700 billion rubles (about $26.9 billion) in claims from creditors. The press secretary for the Yukos bankruptcy administrator earlier said the auction proceeds would enable the company to meet all its creditors´ claims. Also yesterday, the Interior Ministry’s Investigation Committee confirmed that new charges had been brought against president of the Russneft oil company Mikhail Gutseriyev.

„He was charged with large scale illegal entrepreneurship by an organized group,” the press service of the Investigation Committee informed, „updates on the course of the investigation will follow.” On Monday, investigation committee sources said Gutseriyev was on recognizance. The same charges were brought against his partners - Kurochkin, Bakhir and Yelansky - on Monday. On February 12, Gutseriyev was charged with tax evasion by a legal entity. Russneft is a large vertically integrated oil holding. The company comprises some three dozen oil producing enterprises, refineries and transport companies, and a network of petrol stations. (