Transpetrol buyback possible

THE WAY is open for Slovakia to buy back a 49-percent stake in the oil pipeline company Transpetrol that it sold to the Russian company Yukos in 2002.

THE WAY is open for Slovakia to buy back a 49-percent stake in the oil pipeline company Transpetrol that it sold to the Russian company Yukos in 2002.

Yukos Finance, which owns the stake, announced it was canceling a previous sale agreement with another Russian company, Russneft, which was interested in acquiring the shares.

The Slovak Antitrust Bureau approved the takeover of the 49-percent Transpetrol stake by Russneft in May this year.

Yukos officials said they had changed their minds because the Slovak government disagreed with the deal. The government has the right of veto on any sale until the middle of 2007, the SME daily wrote.

If Russneft acquired the Transpetrol stake, it would gain an advantageous position on the European energy market, while Slovakia in turn would be increasingly dependent on Moscow for its energy.

Economy Minister Jirko Malchárek would not speculate on whether Yukos' recent decision increased Slovakia's chances of regaining the Transpetrol stake. He is to meet with Yukos officials next week.

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