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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yunitex Wins Gas Stations After 61 Bids

Shell and TNK-BP fought hard to buy 537 gas stations formerly owned by Yukos on Thursday, but were outbid by Yunitex, a firm linked by analysts to Gazprom and Novatek.

Yunitex faced fiercer competition from the two Western majors than in any auction so far. The auction lasted more than 20 minutes and turned into a tight race.

The fight for the gas stations notched up 61 bids and counterbids and the rivals tested each other's mettle by repeatedly delaying bids until the very last second before the auctioneer could close the sale.

Yunitex made no bid at all up to the 19th step but, when TNK-BP dropped out at the 41st, it mounted a face-to-face duel with Shell, eventually triumphing with a bid of 12.46 billion rubles ($484.3 million), 62 percent above the starting price of 7.7 billion rubles.

Shell's spokesman said after the auction that it had been bidding up to the price it considered economically acceptable.

Rosneft, which had applied to take part in the auction but failed to show up for registration, said it was still interested in buying the assets.

Yunitex declined to comment after the auction.