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Gazprom to buy out Italian stake in Gazprom Neft - paper


MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom may repurchase a 20% stake in Gazprom Neft and former gas assets of the liquidated Yukos oil company from Italian Eni and Enel in a deal worth over $5.5 billion, a business paper reported Wednesday.

Both purchases have been preliminarily approved by the gas giant's board of directors and are expected to be announced on April 6-7, Vedomosti reported, referring to sources close to Eni and the Gazprom board of directors.

State-controlled Sberbank, Gazprombank and Russian Agricultural Bank are prepared to lend money to the gas monopoly, the paper said.

Gazprom will have to pay over $4 billion to Eni for the 20% stake in Gazprom Neft and about $1.5 billion to Eni and Enel for 51% of shares of SeverEnergia, the paper said. SeverEnergia, the holding company for Arcticgaz and Urengoil, has reserves of almost 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

The Italian companies acquired the Russian oil and gas assets two years ago at auctions of the property of liquidated oil giant Yukos, whose founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year prison term for fraud and tax evasion.

Gazprom Neft is Russia's fifth-largest oil company with 77.66% of its stock held by Gazprom and 20% by Eni. Gazprom Neft posted a net profit of $5.2 billion in the first nine months of 2008.

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