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Fitch rates LUKoil notes issue BBB-

MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti) - Fitch Ratings Tuesday assigned the forthcoming notes issue of LUKoil [RTS: LKOH] an expected rating of 'BBB-' (BBB minus). The final rating is contingent upon the receipt of final documents, the agency said.

The announcement of plans for a first note issue in the past four years comes after LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov vowed to raise $500 million in notes this year. The current 2002 $55-million notes issue will mature in November.

LUKoil is a vertically integrated oil company based in Moscow, with upstream operations concentrated in western Siberia. It accounts for roughly 1.3% of world oil reserves, about 2.1% of world production, and 18% of production and refining in Russia.

Outside Russia, LUKoil has three refineries in Europe and runs a network of nearly 800 gas stations in the U.S., bought last year from ConocoPhillips, which holds a 20-% stake in LUKoil.

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