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Interfax: Slovak gov't to hold onto 49% stake in Transpetrol pipeline operator if reacquisition bid succeeds

28.7.2006 16:32
Autor: ČTK

PRAGUE. JULY 28. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - The Slovak government will not re-privatize a 49% stake in Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol should it successfully reacquire the shares it sold to Yukos in 2002, the Slovak Economy Ministry told Interfax late Thursday.

“If the Slovak government acquires the 49% stake [in Transpetrol] from Yukos, it will not consider its privatization,” the ministry said.

The Slovak government, which currently controls 51% of Transpetrol, is trying to reacquire the remaining 49% stake from Yukos in order to reinforce its dominant position in the company as majority owner. The Slovak government says managerial responsibilities are not clearly defined under the current arrangement.

Yukos has been seeking a potential buyer for its Transpetrol stake after the Slovak government earlier this year vetoed its sale to Russian firm RussNeft for USD 103 mln. The Slovak government has the right to veto the sale of Yukos' stake until 2007.

The Slovak government will have to contend with Russia's gas giant Gazprom, which earlier Thursday announced that it had hammered out a deal to buy the Transpetrol stake for USD 105 mln from Yukos' Netherlands-based subsidiary Yukos Finance B.V. during talks in London.

Polish pipeline operator PERN also re-confirmed in a Thursday statement that it too was interested in acquiring the 49% stake.

Yukos bought its stake from the Slovak government in 2002 for USD 74 mln, or CZK 1.7 bln, and is looking to sell the asset in order to settle a huge tax bill with the Russian government.

A bankruptcy hearing in Russia, scheduled for August 1, will likely influence what Yukos does with the stake.


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