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November 10, 2007
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Home / Issue Archive / 2007 / March #3 / Yukos Shareholder to Take Legal Action against Asset Buyers

№ 3 (March 2007)

Yukos Shareholder to Take Legal Action against Asset Buyers

The potential buyers of the remaining Yukos assets which include a 9.44% stake in Rosneft set to go under the hammer tomorrow with the starting price of $7.5 billion are now running the risk of having lawsuits filed against them by the GML, formerly known as Group Menatep, still a majority shareholder of the bankrupt oil company. The director of the GML Tim Osborne said that “anybody buying assets at auction should think long and hard about it; we say that Yukos was stolen by the Russian Federation and anybody that buys its assets at auction is receiving stolen goods.”

By Sergei Balashov

The action is expected to be taken against the Western companies which will acquire the assets. Among the foreign companies interested in buying Yukos’ property are Italian Eni SpA, Chevron Plc and British Petroleum which confirmed on Friday it would bid for Yukos’ Rosneft stake which could reach the price of $9 bln.

The London-based GML has already filed a lawsuit against Russian Federation accusing it of ruining the once largest Russian oil company for political reasons demanding $50 bln of compensation for its lost assets. The first hearing on this case is scheduled to be held in June

Chevron’s shareholders also took preemptive action as John Chiang, board member of the California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers), a major shareholder of Chevron Corp., urged fellow board member to oppose participation in the Yukos auction, reports Globe and Mail. He stated the company would face “allegation of complicity in illegal and unethical activities by the Russian Government” thus putting Calpers’ investments in jeopardy.

Yukos was declared bankrupt in August 2006 after numerous lawsuits were filed against the company following the imprisonment of owners Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev for fraud and tax evasion. Yukos assets are now on sale to pay the back-tax bill which, according to The Times, is estimated at the level of $30 bln. Prior to the start of the sale in 2004 Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin declared the assets would be sold in a transparent way, according to the Financial Times. “The state will do everything possible to ensure a deal takes place in accordance with the law and in an absolutely transparent and market-oriented way,” he said in an interview to the newspaper. However, the Yuganskneftegaz auction raised many questions about the transparency of this procedure as Yukos’ largest asset was sold to a no-name company from a provincial town which was the sole bidder. Yuganskneftegaz was then passed on to state owned Rosneft helping it emerge as one of the major oil companies in Russia.

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