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TNK-BP to Bid for Yukos Gas Stations

TNK-BP will bid for a lot including more than 500 Yukos gas stations at a state auction this week, a company spokesman said Monday, despite having faced widespread criticism for taking part in a previous sale of the bankrupt oil company's assets.

The lot, due to be auctioned Thursday afternoon, carries a starting price of 7.7 billion rubles (nearly $300 million).

Nafta-Moskva, the investment vehicle controlled by billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, has also applied to take part in the auction, Kommersant reported Monday. Nafta-Moskva could not be reached for comment.

Minority shareholders criticized BP after TNK-BP took part in the first in a series of forced bankruptcy auctions to sell off the remains of Yukos. Rosneft won that sale on March 27, buying back a 9.44 percent block of the shares Yukos held in the state-run oil company.

The sale of the gas stations, mainly peppered around central Russia, will follow a major auction Thursday morning, when Yukos' court-appointed bankruptcy receiver sells off the company's last major oil production unit, Samaraneftegaz.

The receiver's spokesman, Nikolai Lashkevich, declined to say who would participate in that auction. The deadline to file applications to take part expired at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Kommersant said Rosneft would be among the bidders, but Rosneft spokesman Nikolai Manvelov declined to confirm the report.

Unitex, an obscure company with links to Gazprom and Novatek, is also due to take part, Kommersant said. Unitex has already taken part, unsuccessfully, in two auctions -- for Yukos gas assets and oil unit Tomskneft.

Promregion Holding, a company believed to have links to LUKoil that won a minor auction for Yukos assets in southern Russia last week, will also take part, the newspaper said.

Lashkevich said the Kommersant report was inaccurate, but declined to provide further details.

Both Rosneft and Gazprom are believed to be interested in buying Samaraneftegaz, which produces about 200,000 barrels of oil per day. The lot's starting price is 154 billion rubles (nearly $6 billion).

(The Moscow Times 08.v.07)

 
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