Russian oil firm Surgut's cash pile jumps to $28 bln

MOSCOW, March 31 Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:03am EDT

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MOSCOW, March 31 (Reuters) - The cash reserves of Russia's third-largest crude oil producer Surgutneftegas jumped by 17 percent to more than 1 trillion roubles ($28 billion) in 2013, company data and Reuters calculations showed on Monday.

Analysts believe the company, based in West Siberian city of Surgut, has built up its cash pile to safeguard against a possible hostile takeover. The company has never commented on the reasons for its large cash reserves.

The deposits earned just 3 percent interest last year, leading some analysts to question whether it would be better to invest the money or return it to shareholders, including holders of Surgut's high-yielding preferred stock.

Surgutneftegas is still headed by Soviet-era "red director" Vladimir Bogdanov and analysts believe management control around 90 percent the company through an evolving structure of affiliates - including the in-house pension fund. Management has never fully disclosed the company's ownership.

The company also showed in its financial results under Russian Accounting Standards that its net income rose last year to 256.5 billion roubles from 160.9 billion roubles in 2012.

It is expected that Surgut will publish its 2013 results under international standards later this year, after disclosing them for the first time in 10 years last year.

($1 = 35.6877 Russian Roubles) (Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Mark Potter)

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