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LONDON, October 31. /TASS/. A Moscow court’s ruling on the return of oil producer Bashneft to state ownership will have no immediate rating impact on the holding company Sistema and its subsidiaries, the international rating agency Fitch said on Friday.
It is too early to tell what the impact of the arbitration court ruling on oil company Bashneft (Bashneft, BB/Rating Watch Negative (RWN)) released 30 October 2014 will be for the ratings of the company, its parent Sistema (Sistema, BB-/RWN) and Sistema's other subsidiaries, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS, BB+/RWN) and MTS Bank (MTS Bank, B+/RWN), Fitch said.
”The ratings of these entities remain on RWN. Fitch will aim to resolve the RWN by mid-March 2015,” Fitch said in a statement.
The Moscow Arbitration Court on Thursday granted a lawsuit by the Prosecutor General’s Office on recognizing the Bashneft privatization as illegal and returning the company’s shares to the state.
The defendants in the case were Bashneft’s private owners - Sistema holding company controlled by billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov who is currently under house arrest and Sistema’s subsidiary, Sistema-Invest, as well as Bashneft itself.
“The court granted the lawsuit by the Prosecutor General’s Office on returning 71% of Bashneft shares to state ownership,” the judge read out the ruling following Wednesday’s court hearings on the case.
The court’s ruling will come into force in a month. The court proceedings will continue, if the ruling is appealed against in the Ninth Arbitration Appeals Court. This is why, the court has ruled against lifting the arrest of the Bashneft shares as a protective measure.
Sistema started to buy up energy companies in the Urals Republic of Bashkortostan in 2005, gradually building up its shareholdings in Bashneft, four refineries, the oil trader Bashkirnefteprodukt and the power utility Bashkirenergo to finally acquire their controlling stakes for $2 billion.
Yevtushenkov’s Sistema, which was a defendant in the court, did not participate in the privatization of the Bashkortostan energy companies currently integrated into Bashneft. These companies’ assets were sold by structures close to Ural Rakhimov, a son of former Bashkortostan head Murtaza Rakhimov.
However, investigators say that Sistema knew about the legal vulnerability of the Bashkortostan fuel and energy companies and purchased this business at a considerable discount.