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Six companies to bid for Yukos 20% stake in Gazprom Neft

MOSCOW, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - At least six companies will bid for a 20% stake in Gazprom Neft [RTS: SIBN] owned by Yukos at an auction of the bankrupt company's assets, Russia's Federal Property Fund said Monday.

The Federal Property Fund has completed the procedure of accepting bids for the second round in the Yukos auction which sees a 20% stake in Gazprom Neft (formerly Sibneft) and the bankrupt company's gas assets go under the hammer April 4.

Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company, was declared bankrupt August 1, 2006, after three years of litigation with tax authorities over the company's tax arrears.

According to the fund's latest data, bids have been filed by Nefttradegroup, a company affiliated with state-run oil producer Rosneft, EniNeftegaz, a subsidiary of Italy's oil and gas group Eni, Unitex, believed to be affiliated with energy giant Gazprom, Group Invest, North-West Invest and Trans Nafta.

The first auction held March 27 to sell Yukos's 9.44% stake in Rosneft was won by Rosneft's subsidiary RN-Razvitiye, which offered 197.84 billion rubles for the lot (about $7.6 billion), compared with the lot's initial price of slightly over 195.5 billion rubles (about $7.5 billion). Only Rosneft and TNK-BP participated in the first auction, the auction commission earlier said.

The second auction will offer 948,271,442 ordinary shares in Gazprom Neft, a 100% stake in Arcticgaz, a 100% interest in Urengoi Oil and Yukos's other 19 assets.

The lot's initial price is 144.77 billion rubles (about $5.57 billion), with the bid increment of 260 million rubles (about $10 million).

Analysts believe the second bidding will see tougher competition for Yukos's assets compared to the first auction.

Yukos, whose founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year prison term in Siberia after being convicted of fraud in May 2005, faces a total of more than 700 billion rubles (about $26.9 billion) in claims from creditors.

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