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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Sale of YUKOS Begins

Yukos is bankruptAug. 02, 2006 - Kommersant - by O. Pleshanova, D. Rebrov, E. Alexeev
The oil company is declared bankrupt
The fate of YUKOS has been decided. The Moscow Arbitration Court, in compliance with the decision of the YUKOS creditors meeting of July 25, declared the company bankrupt yesterday and placed it in receivership for a year. YUKOS shareholders are concerned that its property, to which Rosneft, Gazprom, Gazprom Neft and TNK-BP have the main claims, will be sold cheap. Experts say that the company has no chance of survival. The court hearing took several hours yesterday as Judges Pavel Markov, Galina Bugaeva and Galina Mikhailova allowed all participants in it to have their say. YUKOS interim receiver Eduard Rebgun said that the company had been operating in the red since 2003 and that 68 percent of its income in 2005 was from dividends from the Sibneft stock it owns. Registered claims by creditors now amount to 491.575 billion rubles, but that figure may rise to 790 billion rubles. The sale of the company's assets is expected to raise 477 billion rubles. The court allowed lawyers to read a statement by Tim Osborn, representative of the YUKOS stockholders and head of Group MENATEP. Osborn accused Rebgun of "manipulation of the figures" and assessed YUKOS' assets at $38 billion. He warned the court against the "sanctioned embezzlement of capital worth $15 billion," saying that he would appeal to foreign courts. YUKOS lawyers asked for a recess in the hearing until other courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, make their decisions on various aspects of the claims against YUKOS. When Rebgun reminded the court that YUKOS had already filed for bankruptcy in the United States (in an attempt to retain possession of Yuganskneftegaz), the court rejected the YUKOS lawyers' request. Rebgun was confirmed by the court as interim receiver. He will manage the sell-off of the company's assets. His salary of 8,664,000 rubles per month, which was recommended by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and approved by the creditors meeting, was disputed by Rosneft. That company suggested that 4.5 million rubles per month would be sufficient. The court set his salary at 1.8 million rubles per month. Osborn said that the decision to bankrupt the company was part of the "carefully planned actions of the Russian government" to rid itself of the company and said he expected the company's assets to be sold off for reduced prices. Former head of the YUKOS legal department Dmitry Gololobov, who lives in Great Britain and for whom there is an international arrest warrant out, said that the decision "will not be likely to have any effect on the situation of the imprisoned main YUKOS shareholder [Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev], but the criminal prosecution of ordinary managers will most likely be stopped as no longer necessary."

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