Daily Telegraph (UK): US issues warning on Yukos sale: “The US yesterday warned Russia that the auction of Yukos' main oil asset could have a "chilling effect" on foreign investment in Russia.” (ShellNews.net) 22 Dec 04
By Malcolm Moore (Filed: 22/12/2004)
The US yesterday warned Russia that the auction of Yukos' main oil asset could have a "chilling effect" on foreign investment in Russia.
"We are disappointed that Russia went ahead with the auction of the Yukos subsidiary," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, adding that the matter could be on the agenda when George Bush meets President Putin in the Slovak Republic in February.
Mr Putin was in Germany yesterday on a trip designed to woo investors, including Siemens, to Russia. He said the auction of Yuganskneftegaz on Sunday for £4.8 billion was an "internal matter".
The mystery of who is behind the purchase of Yuganskneftegaz remains. Mr Putin said the buyers, Baikal Finance, were private citizens who had worked in the oil industry for many years. "As far as I am informed they plan to build some sort of relations with other Russian companies that are interested in this asset."
The Russian business newspaper Vedomosti identified the two Baikal representatives at the auction as middle-managers for rival oil company Surgutneftegaz. There were also reports that representatives from Purneftegaz, which is linked to state oil company Rosneft, had checked into a hotel in Nefte Yugansk. Gazprom representatives are believed also to be staying in the town, which is home to the oil unit.
Meanwhile, the Russian bailiffs asked Yukos shareholders to "be at their desks" during yesterday afternoon for potential "operative changes".
Gazprom, which was expected to win Sunday's auction, announced it was dissolving the shell company, Gazpromneft, which was designed to hold the Yukos assets.
The move is intended to minimize Gazprom's legal exposure, analysts said.
Yukos vowed to pursue "damages against all third parties who participate in the sale, the financing of the sale, and any transaction relating to the value of [Yukos] stock".
A spokesman for Yukos said the US court jurisdiction extended globally, and could be used to stop refineries taking Yugansk oil exports or banks financing the company's business.