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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yukos: Lithuania Talks in Final Stages

MTYukos CEO Steven Theede
Stricken oil major Yukos said Tuesday that it was in the final stretch of talks with the Lithuanian government over selling its 53.7 percent stake in its Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery.

Yukos spokeswoman Claire Davidson refuted a statement made earlier by Yukos board chairman Viktor Gerashchenko, who told Interfax Tuesday that the talks had collapsed and that the Lithuanian government was on the verge of nationalizing the refinery, which accounts for 20 percent of Lithuania's GDP.

She said Yukos CEO Steven Theede was holding talks with representatives from Lithuania's economy ministry in Paris on Tuesday. "The talks continue to be very positive and forward moving," she said. "There is already agreement on the substantive details, and only the details remain."

A source close to the talks said Yukos and the Lithuanian government had already reached agreement on price, as well as on crucial issues such as security of supplies and ensuring the positive growth and development of Mazeikiu. The source declined to provide any details about the price.

Yukos, once the nation's biggest oil major, has been trying to reach a deal with the Lithuanian government on selling off its stake for weeks in an attempt to avert bankruptcy proceedings. Last month, the Moscow arbitration court appointed an external manager to take oversight of the company. After a Kremlin-orchestrated legal attack, it is on the verge of collapse with nearly $10 billion in back taxes owed to the government and nearly $10 billion owed to state-owned oil major Rosneft, which has already swallowed up its main production unit.

The sale of its stake in Mazeikiu, which the market has valued at around $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion, could help it pay off the $482 million outstanding on a $1 billion loan originally owed to a group of foreign banks who filed for bankruptcy over the debt.

A spokeswoman for the Lithuanian government also confirmed talks were continuing in Paris Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.

Yukos shares slumped as much as 5.6 percent to 27 rubles on Gerashchenko's comments earlier Tuesday.