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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Volgotanker Asks State to Keep Its 20% Stake

Volgotanker wants the state to drop a plan to sell a 20 percent holding in the company, saying an outstanding $27 million tax claim is reducing the stake's value.

Chairman Alexander Alexandrovich asked Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov in a letter to end the plan, announced Wednesday. Tax authorities froze accounts of the company in December and lifted the freeze earlier this month.

"The developments around the shipping company are an evidence of a planned play to reduce the value of the stake," the company's vice president, Andrei Kleimenov, said in an interview. "The tax claim remains outstanding, a court will hear it next month. It's hanging over the company's value."

Volgotanker carries about 5 percent of Russia's crude and oil product exports. The claim against the shipper followed a $28 billion tax bill against Yukos, once a Volgotanker owner. Last month, the shipper appealed to President Vladimir Putin for protection, stressing that Yukos sold its stake in it in 2000.

Kleimenov declined to say who may be interested in reducing the value of the government's stake in Volgotanker. Fradkov's spokesman Alexander Zharov did not answer calls. Larisa Usova, spokeswoman for the Federal Property Agency, declined to comment.

Volgotanker is 75 percent owned by foreign investors, according to the company's web site, which does not identify them.