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Auction of Yukos Gazprom Neft shares set for April 4

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Yukos's 20% stake in Gazprom Neft [RTS: SIBN], formerly Sibneft, as well as 21 other assets, will be auctioned off April 4, a spokesman for the bankrupt oil company's receiver said Friday.
MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) -- Yukos's 20% stake in Gazprom Neft [RTS: SIBN], formerly Sibneft, as well as 21 other assets, will be auctioned off April 4, a spokesman for the bankrupt oil company's receiver said Friday.

Nikolai Lashkevich said the starting price for the lot has been set at 144,776,328,088 rubles ($5.45 billion).

Under an October 2003 merger agreement between what were once Russia's two leading oil companies, Yukos acquired 92% of Sibneft stock, while Sibneft took a 26% interest in Yukos. The merger was later voided, and the court left Yukos with a 20% stake.

Media reports said earlier Yukos's stake in Rosneft was assessed at 182.3 billion rubles ($7 billion) and in Gazprom Neft 105.5 billion rubles ($4 billion).

Once Russia's largest crude producer, Yukos was declared bankrupt August 1, 2006 after three years of litigation with authorities over tax arrears.

The Yukos group, whose founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year prison term for fraud and tax evasion, now faces multi-billion dollar claims from creditors, including state-controlled oil company Rosneft, Rosneft-owned former production unit Yuganskneftegaz, the Federal Tax Service, and more than 20 other companies.

A consortium of appraisers estimated Yukos assets at $22 billion. However, creditors' total claims against the company amount to some $26 billion.

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