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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yukos: No Deal Struck on Stake Sale

Yukos denied Tuesday any deal to sell a big stake to a foreign rival, but analysts said the country's largest oil company is probably still negotiating a multibillion-dollar agreement.

Yukos shares neared an all-time high Monday on a report that U.S. giants ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil were seeking a 25 percent stake in YukosSibneft, which will be formed by the end of the year.

"Yukos is constantly holding talks with the world's leading energy corporations on a wide range of possible joint projects," the statement said.

"Yukos, however, currently has no agreement and is unaware of any agreement on the part of its shareholders to sell a significant stake in the company."

Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky raised expectations of a deal in July, when he said he was in talks with Exxon, Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and France's Total on various issues.

Analysts said Tuesday's statement failed to clarify matters.

"The fact that Yukos says it is unaware of any agreement on the part of its shareholders does not necessarily mean that its core shareholders are not holding these talks," Kaha Kiknavelidze from Troika Dialog brokerage said.

"The statement may have been issued to ease the talks and calm down the rumors, which make any negotiations very nervous," agreed Pavel Kushnir from UFG.

Analysts on Monday said any deal between Yukos and a foreign major could be complicated by a dispute between Khodorkovsky and the Kremlin after the July arrest of one of his key allies on charges of theft of state property.

Yukos is due to acquire Sibneft by the end of 2003 in a complex transaction worth up to $15 billion, which will make the combined firm Russia's largest and the world's fourth-biggest oil producer.

The Wall Street Journal said U.S. firms were looking to acquire a 25 percent stake in the combined entity in a deal to be worth $11 billion.

On Tuesday, Vedomosti quoted unnamed sources as saying YukosSibneft would seek at least $12.5 billion for a 25 percent stake, which could be partly paid in equity of a U.S. firm. It also said foreign investors would like to have an option to later increase their stake in YukosSibneft to 50 percent.