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No Bids Yet in Lukoil Stake Sale

MOSCOW -- Officials at the State Property Agency, which is organizing an auction for a stake in oil major Lukoil, are worried because no bidders have yet come forward, a source close to the agency said late Friday.

Bids for the government's last remaining 7.59 percent stake in Lukoil, the world's second-largest oil firm by reserves, are due in Monday, with a starting price of $1.93 billion.
"So far not a single bid has come in, and although we hope that bids will appear on the last day, there is some worry that the price is too high," the source said.

However, Valery Nazarov, the acting head of the agency, said last month he would not expect bids to come in until the last moment.

The starting price for the sale is equal to $29.83 per share, slightly below Friday's closing price of $31.45, which was 0.16 percent down on the day. Lukoil's ruble-denominated stock was 0.11 percent off at 916 rubles ($31).

The agency has said it hopes the sale will raise over $30 per share. The agency has identified U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips, which already has several joint projects with Lukoil, as a "very interested" bidder.

The No. 3 U.S. oil firm is the favorite to win the auction, and industry sources have said it wants to build a stake of up to 25 percent.

Lukoil stock is one of the most liquid on the Russian market and analysts believe up to 50 percent of the shares are traded freely in Russia and abroad, while the firm's management is believed to control more than 30 percent of its shares.

The results of the auction are scheduled to be announced Wednesday.
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