Выбор языка:
Нью-Йорк  : Лондон  : Брюссель  : Москва  : Астана  : Владивосток 
TT-Total Вход
Обзор новостей на TT-Total
Yugansk Licenses Safe for 3 Months

The Natural Resources Ministry on Friday gave Yukos a three-month stay of execution. The company has three months to rectify tax payments at its core production unit, Yuganskneftegaz, or face losing key production licenses.

The ruling appears to give the oil major breathing room and likely puts a temporary halt on any attempt to reduce the value of Yugansk, which produces more than 60 percent of Yukos' oil.

The Justice Ministry is aiming to sell Yugansk to settle Yukos' mushrooming back tax bills of more than $8 billion.

Yukos has been teetering on the verge of insolvency for months, as tax authorities have tried to extract $3.4 billion in back taxes and penalties for 2000 and $4.1 billion for 2001. Also added to the total bill last week was a demand for Yugansk to pay off $951 million for 2002. The production unit's 2001 records are also being investigated.

The Natural Resources Ministry reviewed Yugansk's production licenses on Friday at the request of the Federal Tax Service.

With Yukos' bank accounts frozen and minimal cash available to maintain operations, Yugansk has been unable to pay current tax bills in recent months -- a violation of production license agreements that gives sufficient grounds for them to be revoked.

Depriving Yugansk of its production licenses would slash its value tenfold, giving a chance for domestic companies to grab the asset cheaply.

Investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein has valued Yugansk, with its licenses in place, at between $15.7 billion and $17.4 billion, Yukos board chairman Viktor Gerashchenko said at an economic forum in Washington last week, news agencies reported.

Dresdner had not confirmed the valuation by Sunday evening, but Gerashchenko's figures were broadly in line with earlier leaks of Yugansk's valuation, as well as analysts' estimates that it is worth about $16 billion.

At this price Yugansk is out of reach for any Russian bidder, although its price is a secondary issue, Gerashchenko said.

A Yukos spokesman last week said that the government had asked Dresdner to provide valuations for 25 percent, 50 percent and 75 percent of Yugansk, with a view to possibly selling off the production unit in chunks.

The yearlong legal onslaught against Yukos is widely seen as part of a struggle between the Kremlin and Group Menatep, whose founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is on trial on separate charges of large-scale fraud and tax evasion.

Gerashchenko said Yukos has paid $3 billion toward its back tax bills and would be able to pay another $500 million in October. He also said that Yukos, the country's biggest oil exporter, could pay up to $10 billion in back tax bills by July 2006 if given the time to do so.

Analysts agree that with tax probes into Yukos for 2002 and 2003, the final bill could easily reach $10 billion.

The chances of Yukos being allowed the extra time, however, appear to be slim.

The company has said it sent about 50 proposals to the government, offering a variety of options to settle the tax problems.

No response has yet been received, the company has said.

Gerashchenko also hinted that the government could be obstructing the resumption of Yukos crude supplies to China.

Yukos said last month that it would have to suspend exports to the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation, due to a lack of funds to pay for crude transportation and export duties.

The Chinese company said it was ready in principle to front the transportation costs, in return for a reduced price on the crude.

Gerashchenko said the Chinese government "asked the Russian Embassy in Beijing [to solve the problem], which asked the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, which asked the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, but there was no answer."

Yukos earlier said it would have to cut exports to CNPC by about 1 million tons over the next three months, due to insolvency problems.

It was also unclear Sunday whether, at the end of the three-month grace period given to Yugansk to correct its license violations, Yukos would be able to keep the production unit and Yugansk would retain its right to pump oil.

The company remains cut off from most of its revenues due to an accounts freeze.

Yukos on Friday confirmed that it would return a 57.7 percent stake in Sibneft as part of the unwinding of an abortive merger between the two companies.

Sibneft's core shareholders called off the merger after Khodorkovsky's arrest on Oct. 25 last year.

Yukos said in a statement Friday that it would continue its legal attempts to return its stake in Sibneft.

Yukos has also launched a lawsuit against Sibneft's parent company, Millhouse Capital, for the recovery of $3 billion paid for a 20 percent stake in Sibneft, plus compensation for the collapse of the merger, Vedomosti reported Friday, citing a Yukos board member.

Yukos still owns a total of 35 percent of Sibneft.

(The Moscow Times 11.x.04)

 
News Archive