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    An employee talks on a portable radio set at a refinery owned by Bashneft company in the city of Ufa

    Russian State-Run Oil Giant Bashneft Could Be Privatized: Minister

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    Russia's Economic Development Minister thinks the government has no reason to boost its presence in the energy market.

    BEIJING, November 8 (RIA Novosti) — Russia's largest state-owned oil producer Bashneft could be put on to-privatize list to decrease the government's presence in the energy market sector of the country's economy, Russia's Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Saturday.

    On October 30, the Russian court of Arbitration seized 71.6 percent of the company's shares from the oil-telecoms-retail conglomerate AFK Sistema and its subsidiary firm, and handed them over to the government.

    "It is hard to predict what will happen next, but it would be safe to assume that these assets could be added to the privatization plan. Because the government, in my opinion, has no reason to boost its presence in a perfectly market sphere which is oil production and processing," Ulyukayev stated.

    The minister was speaking at a press conference during the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC), which is underway in Beijing, China. Ulyukayev added he was unaware of any possible private buyers willing to purchase Bashneft.

    The Russian Prosecutor General's Office moved to retake the controlling package of state-run Bashneft shares after the regional authority allegedly put the oil company up for privatization without consulting the federal government in Moscow. This resulted in Bashneft being purchased by AFK Sistema in a series of acquisition deals, with every one of them deemed unlawful by the federal prosecutors.

    Sistema's head Vladimir Yevtushenkov is considered to be one of the richest men in Russia. He was arrested in September on money-laundering charges. The court is to determine whether the shares Yevtushenkov legalized had been stolen from Russian Bashkotorstan Republic's oil companies.

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    Bashneft, APEC, China, Russia
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