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Russian Prime Minister authorises privatisation of Slavneft

Mikhail Kasyanov signed on 10 October a directive initiating the privatization the state's 74.95 percent stake in oil giant Slavneft, Russian and Western news agencies reported.

The government's stake is worth an estimated $1.3 billion, and the sale is expected to be the largest privatization deal in post-Soviet Russia. The government of Belarus owns 10 percent of the company, while a 13 percent stake is held by a trust fund controlled by oil companies TNK and Sibneft and businessman Mikhail Gutseriev.

The rest belongs to minority investors. "Vedomosti" named Sibneft -- which is controlled by Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Governor Roman Abramovich -- and Surgutneftegaz as likely potential bidders.

Gazeta.ru noted that former Sibneft executive Yurii Sukhanov recently became CEO of Slavneft and argued that this gives Abramovich an inside track toward acquiring the stake.

(RFE/RL 11.x.02)

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