Bidders on Yukos Assets “Will Pay the Price”

RA is quoted in tomorrow’s Moscow Times:

Gazprom, Norilsk to Bid for Yukos By Miriam Elder Staff Writer Gazprom, Itera and Norilsk Nickel stepped forward Wednesday as the latest interested buyers in the upcoming Yukos auctions, a spokesman for the company’s bankruptcy receiver said. The three Russian companies join U.S. oil major Chevron and ESN Group, an Italian-Russian consortium, in hoping to bid for Yukos’ assets. Several other large international companies have expressed interest in bidding, spokesman Nikolai Lankevich said, but he declined to name them. The final valuation of the assets is due to be completed by the end of February, after which bidding will formally begin, Lankevich said. State-controlled Rosneft and Gazprom are widely expected to snatch up the bulk of the nearly 200 Yukos assets due to be sold off this year. A preliminary valuation put the assets’ value at $22 billion, falling short of the company’s total liabilities, which stand at $26.6 billion. … Analysts said Rosneft and Gazprom could be aligning themselves with foreign and domestic partners in a bid to avoid the legal mess that marked the battle for Yuganskneftegaz, Yukos’ main production unit, in December 2004. A legal injunction from a U.S. court prompted Gazprom to withdraw its bid for the unit, and it went to a new company called Baikal Finance Group instead. Rosneft took over the group a few days later. “The fate of the major assets will be decided by the Kremlin, rather than these auctions,” Alfa Bank chief strategist Chris Weafer said. … Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer for former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was indicted last week on new charges, warned: “We will go on a campaign day and night that ensures that any company that buys those assets will pay the price.”

Full article.