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AFX News: Russian government hunting for Yukos asset buyer Prana

05.24.07, 6:13 AM ET

LONDON (Thomson Financial) – Russian authorities are looking for Prana, the unknown company which paid 3.9 bln usd to acquire key assets of bankrupt energy empire Yukos, beating rival Rosneft in a dramatic bidding war on May 11.

The country’s anti-monopoly service had extended a deadline for ruling on the deal until August 2 after documents sent to Prana’s registered address in Moscow were returned to the sender.

‘There’s no way of finding out the ownership of this company. We have no contact with them. That’s the whole problem,’ said Alexander Pirozhenko, an official from the anti-monopoly service.

Prana paid the 171 mln usd deposit required to take part in the auction. It has until the end of May to pay the remaining amount or lose the deposit.

The address given by Prana, number 34 Bolshovaya Pochtovaya street, is a grey two-floor building in a dusty industrial neighbourhood of warehouses and small workshops near central Moscow.

‘There’s definitely no company like that here. Never heard of it,’ said a man working for the Baryer water filter company, which is based in the building, as he loaded boxes into the back of a truck.

Other companies called Prana registered in Moscow include a hairdresser, a waste disposal company and a real estate agency that denied any involvement with the Yukos purchase.

There are speculations that Prana is a shell for Rosneft’s rival, state-run gas giant Gazprom, or disgruntled former Yukos managers.

A Gazprom spokesman has denied any connection with Prana.

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