The head of the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom says his firm is ready to merge with the state-run Rosneft oil firm.
Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller said Wednesday the deal could be finalized in the near future.
The merger would follow Rosneft's acquisition of Yuganskneftegaz, the main unit of Russia's embattled giant oil firm Yukos.
Rosneft gained Yuganskneftegaz after purchasing the mysterious Baikal Group for more than $9 billion last month after Baikal purchased Yuganskneftegaz at a court-ordered auction.
Critics sharply criticized the transactions as a government sham.
Russian officials say the auction was part of efforts to reclaim billions of dollars that Yukos owes in back taxes.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.