* Surgut equity structure has been shrouded in mystery
* Company is Russia's No. 3 oil producer
* Has $30 billion cash pile
(Adds details, background)
MOSCOW, Dec 19 Workers at Russian oil firm
Surgutneftegas own a large stake in the business,
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, lifting some of the
uncertainty over who controls the country's No.3 oil producer
and its huge cash pile.
Run since 1984 by a Vladimir Bogdanov, 62, Surgut has kept
its ownership structure shrouded in secrecy and has given
minority shareholders no clues about plans for its $30 billion
of cash - twice the size of Moscow's recent support package for
Bogdanov said in 2000 that management and its allies
controlled up to 70 percent of the business, but since then has
"Surgutneftegas is an absolutely private company ... A large
amount of shares is owned by workers' collectives," Putin said
during an annual news conference, in comments that appear to
suggest the firm's ownership structure has changed little.
Market players have long-speculated that Surgut might end up
in state hands or be bought by some Kremlin-friendly oligarchs,
and the years of silence about its ownership fuelled talk that a
change in influence might have taken place.
Surgut's market capitalisation is $36.6 billion, close to
the value of its cash pile and highlighting investors
uncertainty over the business.
The company is based in the Siberian town of Surgut and
pumps around 1.2 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) out of
Russia's total of 10.6 million bpd.
According to official documents, Siberia-born Bogdanov owns
a 0.3 percent stake in the company and is its largest
shareholder, while the group itself is split among roughly
34,000 unidentified stakeholders.
Russia's oil sector is dominated by state-controlled Rosneft
, which turned into the world's largest public oil
company by output this year after taking over smaller rival
TNK-BP for $55 billion.
Rosneft now pumps an average 4.2 million bpd, or 40 percent
of Russia's total.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Steve Gutterman and