Source Pravda.Ru

Yukos will not sell strategically important assets

The YUKOS oil major will not sell assets of strategic importance to it.

"We will not sell fixed assets," a source close to YUKOS shareholders told RIA Novosti but did not elaborate further.

The Sibneft oil company is the first of YUKOS assets to be sold, according to a source. "It /Sibneft/ cannot be qualified as an important and core asset," he noted.

When asked about possible buyers of YUKOS assets, the source said - "I cannot give names. However, it is not difficult to suggest who is after our assets. They are those who have shown an interest in them and who even announced an intention to buy, but later backed down on their words."

Finance Minster Aleksei Kudrin told reporters on Monday that YUKOS should sell out its assets to pay the tax liabilities.

"I believe YUKOS has enough means to pay its liabilities," said the minister. "Let it /YUKOS/ sell its assets on the market."

Mr Kudrin assured that the government did not seek the bankruptcy of large companies, including YUKOS. He said YUKOS and the Tax Ministry were negotiating the tax claims at the moment.

On April 14, the Tax Ministry adopted a decision to surtax YUKOS and charge 99.375 billion roubles (over $3.4 billion) in penalties and fines from the company. The next day the ministry filed a relevant complaint with a court. On May 26, the complaint was honoured.

Vlada Rusakova, chief of strategic development at Gazprom, Russia's gas giant, said at a news briefing earlier that the gas concern may purchase some of YUKOS assets if they were offered for sale.

"If YUKOS assets are put up for sale, we will take part /in bidding/," said Ms Rusakova.

The next day after the briefing that took place on June 1, Gazprom's press service issued a statement to the effect that Gazprom was not considering purchasing YUKOS assets and did not know whether they would be sold at all.

"Statements on possible purchases are not within the competence of Vlada Rusakova, a Gazprom board member, and her pronouncements on the matter do not signify the company's official position," Sergei Kupriyanov, press spokesman of the Gazprom board chairman, told RIA Novosti.

In addition, Gazprom said it intended to implement a series of projects in cooperation with YUKOS and was not therefore "interested in destabilising the situation surrounding the company that can become its partner."

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