Yukos's assets to be sold for $15 billion

The state is not interested is one single company

The Russian Ministry for Industry and Energy exposed the information about the sum, for which Yukos's arrested assets can be sold. According to preliminary estimates of the ministry, it goes about $15 billion. Governmental officials believe that the sale is inevitable. “This is a normal completion of the process,” deputy Minister for Industry Ivan Materov said.

The state does not intend to help Yukos. A spokesperson for the Russian Finance Ministry said that the framework of the federal budget can not give the company an opportunity to clear its tax arrears. “Yukos's assets are to be sold for not less than $15 billion,” Ivan Materov said. The official did not name any possible buyers, although he stated that it could be someone, who had larger needs. Materov is certain that it could be a normal end of the Yukos process.

”Death is also a normal end in the life of a human being,” an investment analyst Yury Pavlov believes. “It is more important to know, how it would be possible to extricate from the crisis after the state showed such a pressure on the oil company. The sky did not fall down on the ground, but everyone made rather definitive conclusions from this signal of the state. Large business prefers to hide somewhere in the background now: companies start either sell their assets, or cut further developments,” Pavlov said. The expert believes that the investment climate in Russia has been seriously damaged.

Yesterday's statements from governmental officials, however, are not likely to influence the market much. Yukos has stopped being an indicator for stock operations. “The government made people get used to the idea that one may arrest Yukos's CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky first and then present enormously huge tax claims to the company. Now they say that the assets will most likely be sold,” an investment analyst Dmitry Lukashov said. “Vesting the company's assets to someone would not be a market way of acting. Moreover, it would be immoral to do so,” Deputy Minister for Energy Ivan Materov said.

Governmental officials have repeatedly emphasized the fact that the state is not interested in the problems of one single company. Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Shatalov stated yesterday that the ministry could not give the company time to pay the tax debt for budget reasons. It just so happens that the Finance Ministry took account of Yukos's debts in the budget, although it seemed that those debts were illusionary before August of this year. Sergey Shatalov said that the issue of tax delays had been handed over to the Tax Ministry. In other words, it will be up to the Tax Ministry to decide, whether to ruin Yukos now, or give it more time to pay the debt.

Yukos's financial director, Bruce Misamore, said that the company had paid $2.5 billion of the $3.4-billion debt for the year 2000. The oil giant plans to finish the payments until the end of the month. In addition, Yukos has a program to clear the debts for 2001-2002.

A spokesperson for the PR department of the Ministry for Energy tried to smooth out Ivan Materov's statement: “He only expressed his personal opinion, which differed from the opinion of the ministry,” the source told the Izvestia. The Russian Ministry for Industry and Energy wants Yukos to continue working – this is the official stance of the department.

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Author`s name Olga Savka