Russia's state-owned oil firm Rosneft says it wants to acquire nearly all of the bankrupt Yukos Oil Company's production assets, as the Kremlin pushes to expand its control over the country's oil and natural gas riches.
Rosneft Vice President Mikhail Stavsky voiced Rosneft's interest to Russian news agencies Wednesday. His comments came a day after a Rosneft subsidiary, R.N. Razvitiye, successfully bid $7.6 billion at auction to buy back at a discount nearly 10 percent of its own shares held by Yukos.
Rosneft acquired Yukos' main production unit in 2004, after it was auctioned to pay disputed delinquent tax bills.
Yukos' former owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is serving an eight-year prison sentence on fraud and tax evasion charges. Supporters say those charges and other pending criminal matters were created by Moscow to punish Khodorkovsky for his support of Russia's political opposition. Kremlin authorities deny this.
In a related development Wednesday, Italian energy companies Eni and Enel announced they have joined forces with the Russian group ESN to bid in the next auction of Yukos assets.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.