Interview with Konstantin Batunin

Konstantin Batunin, an oil and gas industry analyst from Alfa-Bank, joined RT to look at the final YUKOS auction in more detail.

Russia Today: First of all, there is a lot of confusion what was for sale earlier today. Some people called this particular auction staged. Could you explain that?

K.B.: Actually we should split what was for sale into separate lots or separate groups of assets. One of the most interesting assets, which was for sale, was the 49% stake in the company Transpetrol – a Slovak pipeline company. Probably, it was the most interesting lot for Rosneft itself, but at the same time that asset was not perfect from the standpoint of legal issues, because at some point in the past YUKOS bankruptcy manager Eduard Rebgun lost court hearings in Netherlands and therefore regarding this lot there are more questions then answers.

RT: So were they actually selling something they don't own?

K.B.: We cannot say 'yes' and we cannot say 'no'. It's still hanging in the air.

RT: The company that bought the lot is Promneftstroy. What do we know about the company? Why did Monte Vale had to buy Promneftstroy, while they had participated in an auction themselves earlier in April?

K.B.: That's an interesting question, and I don't have a clear answer to it right now. One of the most evident theories which comes to my mind at this point is that probably this company, Monte Vale, was wondering whether to participate in this auction or not and when it ultimately decided to participate in the auction, it realised that it didn't have the means to go ahead, because the procedure was too tough and it didn't have the time to apply for a participation. So the only option left was to purchase one of those already registered for the auction.

RT: Why wouldn't Rosneft want to participate in the auction? It was thought to be in through Promneftstroy which it previously owned, but it turned out to be not true.

K.B.: I actually started with it. Probably Transpetrol was the only asset that could potentially interest Rosneft, but from the standpoint of legal issues it has some trouble and it will have trouble.

RT: There was also another dark horse among the bidders. A little-known company Versar participated at almost every auction and never won. And it also was the only other bidder at today's auction. What does it tell us about the company's role?

K.B.: What you say is true. Again – we are talking about what is a more likely answer to this question – and I am a supporter of that. In Russia you need at least two contenders for a lot to make the auction valid. Probably that was the role for that company.