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Yukos' market capitalization hits $30Bln

The market capitalization of Yukos hit a record $30 billion on Saturday, the highest ever reached by a Russian firm, on hopes of an extra dividend after it acquires rival Sibneft.

Yukos shares outperformed the market Saturday and closed up 2.39 percent at $13.72 per share, putting the firm's market capitalization at $30.69 billion. Stock markets were open to compensate for an extra day's holiday last week.

Yukos is due to acquire smaller Sibneft later this year in a complex cash and equity transaction, valued by analysts at up to $15 billion, to become the country's largest and the world's fourth-biggest oil producer.

"People are counting on post-merger synergies. Previous examples of the same-scale mergers showed a cost reduction of at least $1 billion," said Valery Nesterov from Troika Brokerage.

Analysts hope the merger will lower costs and boost profits, resulting in a higher dividend for shareholders.

"Investors still count on billions of dollars that Yukos may distribute before it completes the deal with Sibneft," Nesterov said. He suggested the dividend could be up to $2 per share.

Cash-rich Yukos confirmed last week it planned to spend billions of dollars on dividends and share buybacks before it acquires indebted Sibneft as the two firms had agreed to align their debts-to-assets ratio. Market players say the firm could distribute between $4.7 billion $6.4 billion in dividends and share buybacks.

Nesterov said Yukos' capitalization was still weak compared with Western peers, such as ExxonMobil or BP, but it was already among the emerging markets' highest.

Yukos produces 1.6 million barrels per day of oil and its output will rise to 2.3 million bpd after it acquires Sibneft.

The capitalization of ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil firm, stands at $246.4 billion.

China's largest crude oil refiner Sinopec, one of the most expensive emerging market oil stocks, is valued at $37.2 billion, Brazil's oil giant Petrobras, whose output is comparable with that Yukos, has a capitalization of $20.3 billion.

Yukos' closest rival in Russia, LUKoil, which has long been the market favorite and the country's largest oil producer, closed up 0.26 percent Saturday at $19.3 per share and a market capitalization of $16.4 billion.

(The Moscow Times 23.vi.03)

 
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