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Gazprom to get 20% of Gazprom Neft under agreement with Eni

Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] will receive 20% of Gazprom Neft [RTS: SIBN] shares under an agreement with Italy's oil and gas group Eni, a deputy CEO of the Russian energy giant said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] will receive 20% of Gazprom Neft [RTS: SIBN] shares under an agreement with Italy's oil and gas group Eni, a deputy CEO of the Russian energy giant said Wednesday.

Alexander Medvedev said an Eni subsidiary bought the stock at a Yukos asset auction Wednesday, and added that Gazprom will receive at least 51% of Yukos assets bought by the Italian company's subsidiary.

"We will receive at least 51% of the assets from Eni. As for gas assets, obviously we will try to be included," Medvedev said.

It was reported earlier Wednesday that a subsidiary of Italy's energy company Eni has won a 20%-stake in Gazprom Neft at a second auction of Yukos assets, offering 151.53 billion rubles ($5.83 billion).

Three companies bid in the second auction for the now bankrupt oil company's assets, Russia's Federal Property Fund said.

It said a third auction, including Yukos' research and development assets, had been called off due to a lack of bids.

A fund spokesman said the companies were EniNeftegaz (a subsidiary of Italy's oil and gas group Eni), Yunitex (to be acquired by independent Russian gas producer Novatek), and Neft Trade Group (affiliated with state-run oil producer Rosneft).

According to informal reports, seven companies applied to participate in the auction.

Gazprom said earlier it could acquire the Gazprom Neft stake if EniNeftegaz won the Yukos auction.

The Russian energy giant said it has signed a call-option agreement with leading Italian energy companies Eni and Enel on the acquisition of assets, including the second lot of Yukos assets.

The starting price for the lot was 144.77 billion rubles ($5.57 billion).

Nikolai Lashkevich, the press secretary for the Yukos receiver said $5.83 billion is a fair price.

Rosneft [RTS: ROSN] reclaimed its 9.44% stake held by Yukos in the first auction through a 100%-controlled subsidiary, RN-Razvitiye, last Tuesday.

The total worth of Yukos is an estimated 709 billion rubles ($27.3 billion). Once Russia's leading crude producer, Yukos was declared bankrupt in August.

Rosneft said it will use the stock it bought back from Yukos to acquire core assets in Russia and abroad.

RN-Razvitiye offered 197.84 billion (about $7.6 billion) for the stake, including 12 bills of exchange in the Yuganskneftegaz oil-producing unit, worth 3.558 billion rubles (about $136.8 million).

The price paid by Rosneft at the auction was fair, a company representative said.

But the chairman of the Yukos board of directors said the stake was sold below market value.

"The buyer of this stock should understand what the market price is. If you pay less, you expose yourself to criticism from the company's majority and minority shareholders alike," Viktor Gerashchenko said at Yukos's central office, where the auction was held.

Market watchers believe Rosneft's purchase will further strengthen the role of the state in the oil sector and enhance the company's attraction for foreign investors.

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.

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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