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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yukos Discloses Who Owns What

For years, they have stayed in the shadows. They feared for their own lives and those of their children and relatives. In preparation for the day, they have hired security guards, chosen new neighborhoods and moved schools.

On Wednesday, they posted their secret -- one of corporate Russia's most closely guarded -- on the Internet, and five new multimillionaires were officially born.

They are the core shareholders of Yukos, Russia's second-largest oil company, which in the course of a few years has gone from corporate renegade to stock market darling.

Group Menatep, a former industrial powerhouse that has kept a low profile since the August 1998 financial crisis, owns 61 percent of Yukos, according to a posting on the company's web site that lists all shareholders with stakes greater that 5 percent.

Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whom Forbes magazine named Russia's richest man for the last two years, owns 36 percent of Yukos. The company's current market capitalization stands at more than $20 billion, which gives him a net worth of $7.2 billion. In a survey published in January, Forbes valued him at $3.7 billion.

Analysts hailed the move and said it was a landmark event in Russian corporate disclosure.

"This is the single largest revelation of personal wealth in post-Soviet Russia," said Steven Dashevksy, an analyst with the Aton brokerage. "It means that society has matured to the point where those with wealth don't have to hide."

Yukos is seeking to list on the New York Stock Exchange this fall, and U.S. regulators require publicly traded companies to disclose beneficial ownership. In Russia, many companies hide their ultimate owners by using complicated networks of shell companies in offshore tax havens.

The other major shareholders in Yukos via Menatep include Leonid Nevzlin, who holds 8 percent -- worth just over $1 billion -- of the group. He is a co-founder of Group Menatep, former Yukos deputy CEO, senator in the Federation Council and head of the Russian Jewish Congress.

Menatep said another former Yukos executive, Vladimir Dubov, holds 7 percent of the company. This means the State Duma deputy has about $900 million worth of Yukos shares, as do Group Menatep director Platon Lebedev and Yukos executives Mikhail Brudno and Vasily Shakhnovsky.

The other 39 percent of Yukos is distributed in the following way: 24 percent is traded on domestic and international markets, 10 percent is held in a trust for the repatriation and support of Yukos retirees and 5 percent is kept as treasury stock.

"The decision to reveal Yukos' ultimate ownership structure was hotly debated within the company for the past year," a source close to Yukos said.

The shareholders' decision to reveal themselves shows that they are comfortable with the control they have over their own property, six years after the government literally handed Yukos over in a scandal-ridden privatization.

According to the original loans-for-shares plan, floated in April 1995 by a consortium of Russian banks, share packets in state companies were to be handed over for management by the banks, in exchange for loans to the government.

Menatep took a 45 percent stake in Yukos from the state as part of the controversial "shares-for-loans" privatization auction in December 1995, after a rival bid was thrown out by the government on questionable technical grounds. Menatep paid the government $159 million for the shares. The government never exercised its options to buy the shares back.

Menatep picked up another 33 percent of Yukos from the government in an investment tender held on the same day, and a further 7.1 percent at a cash privatization auction the next month.

Menatep Bank organized both auctions.

Shortly after his election in 2000, Putin told a group of oligarchs -- the main beneficiaries of the state sell-offs of the mid-1990s -- that the government would not revisit post-Soviet privatization deals.