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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Alfa Service Takes a Stab at Fridman

BP's Russian partners are being urged to return to the government Tyumen Oil Co., their biggest oil asset, by a Moscow oil trader that is suing to reverse the 1997 state asset sale of Tyumen.

Alfa Service, which says it represents a group of Russian banks, called on billionaire Mikhail Fridman, chairman of Alfa Group, to settle the dispute out of court by returning the Tyumen stake to the government. BP last year agreed to pay Alfa and its Russian partners $7.7 billion to pool oil assets including Tyumen with BP's Russian assets, creating TNK-BP.

"By doing this, you will express respect for the country and its people who allowed you to earn billions of dollars," the trader said in a letter to Fridman, faxed to news agencies.

Alfa Group and its allies bought 40 percent of Tyumen in 1997 for $810 million and purchased another 50 percent in 1999. Alfa Service's move to dispute Tyumen's 1997 sale comes as the legal attack on Yukos fuels investors' concern about the property rights in the country.

Alfa Service earlier this month offered to buy gas producer Rospan International from Yukos and TNK-BP. Alfa Service offered to buy Yukos' 56 percent of Rospan for $450 million and pay $350 million to acquire TNK-BP's 44 percent stake in the Siberian company. Yukos has since sold the Rospan stake to TNK-BP for $357 million.

Fridman, Russia's sixth-richest man with a fortune worth $5.2 billion according to Forbes, is out of Russia and was unavailable to comment, Alfa Group spokeswoman Svetlana Smirnova said. TNK-BP spokesman Yury Zodiyev was not answering his office telephone.

In April, three members of the State Duma called on prosecutors to help reverse the 1997 sale of Tyumen. The case has not reached court.