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Slovakia among 6 bidders for Transpetrol stake

The new Slovak government yesterday made a formal offer to take control of Transpetrol SA, the country's oil pipeline operator, buying back a stake from OAO Yukos Oil Co., the Russian oil group declared insolvent last week. "I am very interested in getting the stake back," Lubomir Jahnatek, economy minister, told the FT in an interview. "If we get the stake back we would like to keep it in state hands." Slovakia is among the six bidders for Yukos's stake in Transpetrol as the government wants to increase its control over the company, the Slovak Economy Ministry said. Yukos is in liquidation and is selling its assets, including 49% of Transpetrol. OAO Gazprom, Russia's state-run natural-gas company, said July 27 it agreed to buy the stake for $105 million. Slovakia, which owns the remaining 51% of Transpetrol, must approve the sale and is negotiating with all the bidders. Slovak Economy Ministry spokesman Branislav Zvara said in a phone interview from Bratislava yesterday that the Slovak government placed its bid for the stake. Other bidders are Mol Rt.'s Slovak unit Slovnaft AS, Czech state-owned pipeline operator CEPS AS, Russia's eighth-biggest oil producer OAO Russneft and Poland's PERN Przyjazn SA, he said. Slovakia has concerns that the 49% stake in Transpetrol could fall into the hands of a Russian oil group. Zvara said the ministry imposed four conditions on the new owners, including the demand that the Slovak government must have management control of Transpetrol after the sale. (Bloomberg, FT.com)