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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oil Firms Mull State Debt Plan

Russian oil firms Sidanko and Yukos may have to place controlling stakes in subsidiaries in state trust or issue bonds to restructure debts to the state, former First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin said Tuesday.

Last week, the government issued a regulation stating that companies with debts to the state are to transfer 50 percent plus one share in trust to the Russian Federal Property Fund.

Under the scheme, companies get a five-year restructuring period on the original debt and 10-year restructuring period on fines on that debt.

If a company does not meet scheduled debt payments twice in a row or stops making current tax payments, the government can sell its shares.

An indebted company may also choose to issue property-backed bonds and restructure its original debt for two years and fines for five years. If a company refuses to undergo any of the proposed payment plans, the government will start a bankruptcy suit against it.

"I am fully convinced that if the rules of the game are set, any individual deviations from them will be most harmful," Potanin told a news conference.

A decision on each separate company will be taken by a government commission, which Potanin headed before he was dropped from the government in this week's cabinet re-shuffle.

Potanin is expected to return to his former position as head of the powerful Uneximbank.

The commission is due to meet in a month to six weeks, and Potanin promised to prepare documents on unspecified companies from the Sidanko group, the Norilsk Nickel metals giant and other firms controlled by Uneximbank.

"I think we shall be able to see results of the scheme within a month or a month and a half," Potanin said.

Rosprom-Yukos spokesman Vadim Razumovsky said that the suitable scheme could be chosen after the company's lawyers had studied the government's regulation.

Rosprom-Yukos is a financial-industrial group led by Bank Menatep, which has a controlling stake in the Yukos oil group.

"In any case, we cannot rule out using one of the three schemes suggested by the regulation," he said.