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Officials hopeful about Dutch decision on Mazeikiu Nafta

  • 2005-11-22
  • By The Baltic Times
VILNIUS 's Government officials expressed their hope on Tuesday that a Dutch court would unfreeze Yukos' stake in Mazeikiu Nafta, registered there, and thereby pave the way for a sale of the asset and a new beginning for the refinery and oil export terminal.

"We hope that the seizure of shares will be recalled on Nov. 24 - we made a lot of efforts in Amsterdam (Nov. 18) to expect such a decision from the court," Saulius Specius, adviser to the prime minister, was quoted by the Baltic News Service as saying.

The decision will have enormous consequences for Lithuania. If Dutch authorities unlock the asset, a planned sale could take place. Already four investors, including heavyweights TNK-BP and Lukoil together with ConocoPhillips, have placed bids, though the Lithuanian government is also interested in buying the 53 percent stake from Yukos.

A group of Yukos' Western creditors, together with a Russian production company that was a former subsidiary of Yukos, had asked Dutch courts to arrest the stake. The banks alone are owed some 500 million euros by the embattled Russian oil company.

In a separate decision, a Dutch court on Monday passed a ruling mandating that an expert group be established to come up with the best method for selling the stake in Mazeikiu Nafta, which is owned by Yukos Finance.

It was unclear whether the government would be able to pull off a sale of Mazeikiu Nafta while, or before, the expert group is being set up. But Cabinet officials apparently are hoping to do namely that.

Yukos officials have reportedly said they wanted $1 billion for the asset. If the government can buy Mazeikiu Nafta, it will add 20 percent from its own interest in the refinery and sell a total 73 percent to a strategic investor.