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29 December 2004 -- The Russian state-controlled monopoly Gazprom and other top Russian oil producers are reported to have denied any relation to the winner of an auction to buy the main production unit of the oil giant Yukos.
Almost nothing is known about the Baikal Finance Group, which on 19 December bought Yukos' Yuganskneftegaz unit for about 7 billion euros ($9.3 billion).
Officials of the company, registered in the city of Tver, have not emerged to make any comment.
Gazprom's oil division declined to submit a bid in the auction.
Reports say that if Baikal fails to pay the full amount it has bid in 14 days, the Russian government can order a new auction or seize Yuganskneftegaz in lieu of the massive unpaid tax claims the government says are owed by Yukos.
Yukos officials denounced as illegal the sale of the Siberian oil-pumping unit, which accounts for some 60 percent of Yukos' output. The sale effectively dismantles Yukos, Russia's largest oil producer.