They Asked Vladimir Putin like a Member of the Family
// To Pass YUKOS into the Friendly Hands of Dubai
Yesterday, members of Maktoum family, rulers of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, offered their help to rescue YUKOS Oil Company. They are part of the consortium that offered to pay off the tax debts of YUKOS and its co-owners in exchange for controlling stock in the company (the debt amounts to some $10 billion). Another advantageous offer YUKOS received was from OOO Alfa Service, which notified YUKOS of its intentions to buy 56% shares of ZAO Rospan International for $450 million. However, this offer, unlike the first one, will never be accepted.
Arabian Sheikhs Rescue YUKOS
The Sunday Times reports that members of Dubai's ruling Maktoum family offered $10 billion to rescue YUKOS. Let us remind you that, on July 23, George Miller, head of British International Waste Management Systems (IWMS), sent a letter to Vladimir Putin, where he suggested that he sell the YUKOS shares owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his partners. The consortium was fronted by Konstantin Kagalovsky, YUKOS ex-shareholder, President of Yukos-funded Open Economics Institute.
Maktoum family members were unavailable yesterday to comment on the situation. Kagalovsky told Kommersant: “I cannot name those who joined the consortium, but I confirm that more than a half of the needed funds would be provided by investors from Persian Gulf countries. The exact amount is not known yet, because the total of tax claims against YUKOS has not been specified.”
The Maktoum family is a business partner of Roman Abramovich, owner of Sibneft, who at one time was to become Khodorkovsky's partner. The family owns the Emirates Air Company, which sponsors the British Chelsea soccer club. The Emirates continued to sponsor Chelsea even after Abramovich became its owner.
If Dubai's ruling dynasty confirms its participation in regulating the YUKOS situation, it will become the fifth candidate to save the company from being nationalized and bankrupted. Others who tried to save YUKOS were YUKOS board chairman Viktor Gerashchenko, head of Sputnik Group Boris Jordan, Kagalovsky himself and Canadian ex-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
TNK Underestimated Rospan
Russian companies have been demonstrating a rather pragmatic approach to solving the YUKOS problem. They are interested in concrete assets of the company. Yury Shafranik, former RF Minister of Industry and Energy has demonstrated interest in Yuganskneftegaz, the main YUKOS production unit. “If the company is put up for sale, we will participate,” Shafranik said, estimating Yuganskneftegaz at 100 billion rubles.
Alfa Service has joined Shafranik, and announced that it was willing to pay $450 million for the 56% of Rospan shares owned by YUKOS, which is $93 million more than what TNK-BP, the other co-owner of the company, offered.
There have been 88,000 Alfa Services registered on the Russian territory (only 12 of which are in Moscow). None of them has the individual tax number (INN) 7706501570, indicated on the company letterhead on which the letter to YUKOS was printed. Moreover, as of the beginning of 2004, this number had not been issued to any legal entities. There are 115 enterprises with different forms of ownership registered at the address mentioned on the letterhead (14 Zhitnaya Street, Building 1, Moscow), but Alfa Service is not among them.
The company made its appearance in the spring, when it filed a suit in Moscow Arbitration Court to nullify the results of the 1997 investment contest to sell 40% of shares in Tyumen Oil Company (TNK became part of TNK-BP last year). Igor Gilev, Alfa Service deputy general director said that the joint stock company, as a minor shareholder in TNK (TNK does not deny that fact), is requesting that the court seize 40% of the company's shares, or a corresponding share of TNK-BP, as security measure. The preliminary hearings on the case will take place on August 16.
Alfa Service issued a press release on Friday, where it said that Zapsibresurs, Yamalstroimekhanizatsia, Vestkom, and Yamalstroi all belonged to it. In July of last year, Gilev, as a representative of Zapsibresurs, sent a letter to YUKOS, reading, “As part of our program to pay off credit debt and return the controlling stock (51%) in Rospan International, we are sending you the draft of a Duma inquiry to the General Prosecutor's office. Hereby, we also confirm our readiness to regulate our differences.”
After the story was made public, Gilev was fired from Zapsibresurs and filed a suit against YUKOS and Khodorkovsky, implying that the reason for his firing was their “illegal activity.”
It is less likely that the co-owners of Rospan would want to deal with an organization that is so unfriendly towards them. An Alfa Service representative told Kommersant, “YUKOS owns 56% of Rospan shares; therefore, it has the right to dispose of them any way it likes. There are no legal obstacles to selling them to Alfa Service. TNK will be interested in us as a partner, since Rospan development will take $500-700 million. Considering the current situation, YUKOS will not be able to finance its share.”
Gerashchenko commented on Alfa Service letter as follows: “It's been received, but hasn't been reviewed yet. As far as I understand, the agreement of the Rospan co-owners does not imply the possibility of the purchasing of their share by third persons [on August 17, TNK-BP will become the owner of 56% of shares in Rospan for $357 million – Kommersant]. Besides, we still do not know the Ministry of Justice viewpoint on YUKOS selling Rospan shares. TNK-BP refused to comment officially on the situation, but they mentioned, “It is a provocation intended to intensify the YUKOS situation. Alfa Service probably has no money for a purchase like this.”
Kommersant will continue to follow the events unfolding around YUKOS.
YUKOS Released in Parts
On Friday, Moscow Arbitration Court Judge Aleksandr Vasilyev satisfied a YUKOS complain and reversed the seizure of Yuganskneftegaz ordered by executive bailiff Irina Solovyeva. Vasilyev thought the ruling violated article 59 on industrial production, which specifies the order of penalty recovery and realization of a debtor's property. Yuganskneftegaz is the main production unit of YUKOS, and its shares relate to production activity property, which is why they may come under penalty only after the money and non-production assets of the company have been seized. Now, court marshals have no right to realize the 100% Yuganskneftegaz shares belonging to YUKOS to pay off its tax debt from 2000. But YUKOS has a right to sell those papers at any moment.
Neither the courts, nor the court marshals' service, nor YUKOS (they should receive it within five days of the ruling) have the text of the ruling of Arbitrary Court, so all parties are refusing to comment on it. Let us emphasize that today the Arbitration Court of Moscow is to hear two analogous complaints from YUKOS on the arrest of the other production units of the company, Tomskneft and Samaraneftegaz.
Kommersant will continue to follow the unfolding events around YUKOS.
All the Article in Russian as of Aug. 09, 2004