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Yukos may be sold to avoid bankruptcy - experts

MOSCOW, August 4 (RIA Novosti)-Russian experts put the aggressive judicial campaign in the West to recover debts from the Yukos oil company down to its creditors' wish to bring about the former major's bankruptcy and get at least something from it. However, they consider such a development improbable and think that most likely Yukos will be sold as a whole to a Kremlin-accredited company, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily writes.

On Wednesday, a Texas court was to consider the suit brought by a syndicate of Western banks demanding that a $482-million debt be recovered from Yukos. The London High Court upheld a similar claim a month ago.

After state-owned oil major Rosneft acquired Yuganskneftegaz, the main asset of Yukos, there were ample opportunities to sell the embattled company's other assets. But, although considerable tax arrears remained, the Yukos subsidiaries were not sold, said Dmitry Tzaregorodtsev, an analyst with Russian brokerage Rye, Man & Gor Securities.

At that time Yukos' all assets were already distributed among various companies. There were many bidders, but the sale did not take place, "because everything is being done to sell Yukos as a whole," Tzaregorodtsev said. In his view, the sale has been delayed because the price the subject of detailed discussion. In the analyst's opinion, this is the only explanation that makes sense.

If Yukos wholesale changes its owner, the latter will not allow it to go bankrupt. It is therefore obvious that the new owner will be a businessman loyal to the authorities. The paper cites the analyst as saying it will be either a state-run syndicate or a Kremlin-accredited businessman.

Foreign creditors have slim chances of getting their money back. "Yukos has no money," Tzaregorodtsev said. "The syndicate can do nothing more than demand that the money received from the sale of Yukos assets be remitted to it."