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Finalization of Gazprom, Rosneft merger temporarily delayed

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Dec. 29 -- Finalization of the merger between Gazprom and state-owned OAO Rosneft has been delayed temporarily pending Rosneft's plans to acquire OAO Yukos unit Yuganskneftegas, Russian Economic Development Minister German Gref said.

Gref told reporters in Moscow earlier this week that the Gazprom-Rosneft merger delay is caused by uncertainty as to how the acquisition will be structured.

Raymond James & Associates Inc. issued an energy industry brief Dec. 29 saying that it's unclear yet whether Yuganskneftegas will operate as an autonomous subsidiary or whether it will be integrated into the organizational chain of its new parent company.

The pending merger of Gazprom and Rosneft will raise the Russian government's stake in the combined entity to 50%, up from the current 39% stake in Gazprom, RJA analysts noted.

Last week, Rosneft announced that it is buying 100% of Baikal Finance Group, giving Rosneft control of Yuganskneftegas. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. BFG bought Yuganskneftegas at a Dec. 19 auction conducted by the Russian government (OGJ Online, Dec. 23, 2004).

Yukos faces billions of dollars in delinquent tax claims. The company's problems began with the Oct. 25, 2003, arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, its former chief executive, on fraud and tax evasion charges.

Once Russia's most aggressive oil company, Yukos filed a voluntary petition for reorganization on Dec. 14 in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (OGJ Online, Dec. 15, 2004). The next bankruptcy court hearing is slated Jan. 6.

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