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Court brings Transpetrol closer to Slovakia

THE SLOVAK government, which owns a majority share in Slovakia's Transpetrol oil pipeline operator, has come back into play as a possible buyer of the remaining 49-percent stake in the company.

A court in Amsterdam recognised Bruce Misamore and David Godfrey as the legitimate heads of Dutch shareholder Yukos Finance on October 31. Misamore and Godfrey favour a deal with Robert Fico's cabinet, the Pravda daily wrote.

The Transpetrol shares were bought five years ago by Yukos Finance's parent firm, Russian oil company Yukos, which declared bankruptcy in 2006. At the time, the shares were transferred to Yukos Finance, and a re-purchase deal was prepared by Slovak Economy Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek and the American heads of Yukos Finance, Misamore and Godfrey.

The two Americans were fired by the bankruptcy receiver, but the court in Amsterdam has now reinstated them.

The Slovak Economy Ministry says it must first wait to see how the court verdict will affect an auction held earlier this year by Yukos receiver Eduard Rebgun. Rebgun sold Yukos Finance, including Transpetrol shares, for $305 million (Sk6.9 billion) to the Russian oil company Promneftstroi, which was probably acting on behalf of the Russian Rosneft company.

The auction will probably be declared invalid, as the Amsterdam court questioned the need to declare Yukos bankrupt, meaning that Rebgun was not entitled to sell off Yukos Finance.

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