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20 December 2004 -- The Russian Justice Ministry says that if the winner of yesterday's forced auction for Yuganskneftgaz -- the main production unit of the Yukos oil company -- does not manage to pay for its purchase within 14 days, the unit could become government property.

An unknown Russian company calling itself the Baikalfinansgrup (Baikal Finance Group) placed the winning bid for Yuganskneftgaz, in a move that stunned financial analysts. Officials of the group, which bid $9.3 billion for Yuganskneftgaz, have not made any comment.

Justice Ministry official Aleksandr Buxman today told journalists in Moscow that if Baikalfinansgrup does not pay up within 14 days, it will forfeit its $1.7 billion auction deposit and the government could take over the unit.

(dpa/ITAR-TASS)
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