VILNIUS - Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said the government intends to compensate for lost ruble deposits within three years provided that it can sell its stake in the Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery.
"If we are successful with the shares of Mazeikiu Nafta, we may raise additional financing. We may use some options to get additional money for them and meet our obligations eliminating the burden the state has taken up," he said in a interview on public radio June 14.
The prime minister pointed out that the state had not yet received funds for Mazeikiu Nafta's privatization. Though he was not specific about which shares he spoke of, Brazauskas noted that the shares could be sold at good price.
The government owns 40.6 percent of the refinery and oil export complex, while Russia's embattled oil company Yukos holds a 53.7 percent stake.
The state owes residents some 1.9 billion litas (550.7 million euros) in lost ruble deposits, which authorities earlier pledged to compensate by 2008. "I think that we will manage to return funds to all depositors by the deadline if everything goes as scheduled," Brazauskas said.
Saulius Specius, an adviser to the government leader, refused to comment on the possible sale that the prime minister referred to.
The government is in talks with Yukos to take from the Russian company an option to buy 9.72 percent of newly issued Mazeikiu Nafta stock for $75 million and take a majority holding in the company, which is Lithuania's largest taxpayer.
With a majority stake, the government could turn around and sell it to a strategic investor for hundreds of million of euros. A number of major Russian oil companies are interested in the asset.