Author`s name Olga Savka

Yukos's assets sold to unknown company

The surprising outcome of the sales brought up the idea that the auction has been planned beforehand

The auction to sell the stake of Yukos's major extracting company, Yuganskneftegaz, ended quite unexpectedly. Yuganskneftegaz was sold to a completely unknown firm. One of Europe's richest oil and gas deposits now belongs to Baikal Finance Group Ltd.

The Russian Federal Property Fund let only two companies participate in the auction – Gazpromneft, which submitted its application on December 17th and Baikal Finance Group, which applied for the auction on December 16th.

Gazprom's branch company, Gazpromneft, was thought to be the company to buy Yuganskneftegaz; market specialists did not even doubt about its victory in the auction. However, Baikal Finance Group supported the starting price – 246.753 billion rubles (Gazpromneft did not act so), and a spokesperson for Gazprom left the auction room to make a phone call. A short break was announced in the auction, after which the Gazpromneft's spokesperson did not offer a higher price for Yukos's company. Baikal Finance Group raised its offer up to 260.753447 after that. As a result, Gazpromneft has not done anything at the auction.

The auction committee announced the winner of the auction – Baikal Finance Group Ltd.

It is worth mentioning that there is no information about the company at all. It is only known that Baikal Finance Group is registered in the city of Tver, which is rather close to Moscow. Spokespeople for Baikal Finance Group have not come for the press conference after the auction.

Gazpromneft's strange behavior at the auction brings up the idea that it has been planned beforehand. One can only guess, what is going to happen in the near future as far as this question is concerned. Baikal Finance Group is expected to pay the deposit of $1.7 billion during the upcoming two weeks and pay the acquisition completely.

On the other hand it is easy to predict what Yukos's shareholders and administrators will do. It is an open secret that they consider Yuganskneftegaz's arrest and sales illegal. Yukos's lawyers are currently trying to defend the position of the company in US bankruptcy court in Houston. The lawyers want the court to block the Russian government's access to company's arrested assets. In addition, they do not want foreign banks to give loans to possible buyers of Yuganskneftegaz.

The American court ruled shortly before the auction that Yukos's claims were legal. The court sustained several of the oil giant's claims too. The US court's resolution, however, does not have a legal effect in Russia. The syndicate of foreign banks, which was supposed to give a large loan to Gazpromneft to acquire Yuganskneftegaz, was rather concerned about the decision of the Houston court. Each bank in the syndicate had its assets in the USA, which could be frozen. Analysts do not exclude that the authorities had to change the situation on the auction on account of inevitable difficulties with raising such a large, albeit necessary loan.