Slick investing

Mikhail Khodorkovsky may be sitting in a Russian jail cell, but his former company’s real estate assets are only appreciating in value.

Billionaire Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been left to rot in a Siberian penal colony, sentenced to eight years for what a Russian court decided was a hat trick of crimes: fraud, embezzlement and evasion of personal income taxes. While he sits and serves out his time, a court-appointed receiver to the bankrupt oil group he founded, Yukos, has devised a timetable for its final break-up.

According to a recent announcement, the physical assets of the company, including oil production and refinery sites, are to be bundled up and sold off, likely in the middle of May. The most valuable asset in the bunch is the Samaraneftegaz refinery, which is reportedly valued at $3 billion (€2.3 billion). But in addition to the company’s oil-producing assets, Yukos’ real estate holdings will also go on the auction block. The starting price: $873 million.

Out of all the company’s vast real estate holdings, the most attractive is Yukos’ headquarters, located in downtown Moscow. Not only will the winning buyer gain a huge chunk of prime real estate in one of the world’s most appealing emerging markets, but the city’s office market is booming. Last year, rents increased by more than 28 percent, according to research from Richard Ellis.

For those with a taste for non-traditional property, some 1,135 gas stations will also be put up for sale. Just $300 million and they can be yours, too. Just remember, however, if you are looking to buy, try not to annoy the Kremlin in the process. Moscow may be an attractive city in which to own property, but the real estate deep inside Siberia is somewhat less appealing.