Unknown company Baikal Finance Group was declared winner of an auction for Russian oil firm Yukos's main production unit yesterday, outbidding gas monopoly Gazprom, the widely-viewed favourite.

Baikal, named after a huge freshwater lake in Siberia, bid 260.75 billion roubles (Dh34.30 billion) for Yuganskneftegaz, said the sale's organiser, the Federal Property Fund.

Gazprom announced it was not linked to Baikal in any way but analysts had said they suspected the gas giant might have had a hand in the winning bid.

"I see no plausible explanation for the theory that Baikal was representing competing interests," said Paul Collison, a strategist with UBS in Moscow.