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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Boss quits post at troubled Yukos
Security guard outside Yukos headquarters
Yukos is fighting to stave off bankruptcy
The boss of crippled Russian oil firm Yukos, Steven Theede, has resigned ahead of a creditors' meeting he denounced as a "sham".

The company's future will be decided by a Russian bankruptcy court, which will either seek a liquidation of its assets or allow it to try to restructure.

Russian tax authorities and state-owned oil giant Rosneft are among creditors chasing Yukos for $17bn (9bn).

Yukos has struggled to survive after a series of tax demands totalling $27bn.

It says the demands are linked to a political campaign against its founder, Mikhail Khordorkovsky, who is currently serving a long prison sentence in Siberia.

In 2004, the back tax bill led to Yukos' main Yugansk oil field being expropriated by the government and sold-off at auction, eventually being acquired by Rosneft.

Liquidation

In his resignation letter, Mr Theede said the creditors' meeting would be "attended by those who are intent on destroying the rest of Yukos and taking its assets with no serious consideration being given to our financial restructuring plan".

He added that he had been told court-appointed bankruptcy manager, Eduard Rebgun, had prepared a report for the creditors stating that a financial restructuring was impossible and the company should be liquidated.

Mr Theede said Mr Rebgun's report for the creditors was innacurate.

According to Yukos, Mr Rebgun's report says that its assets of $16.9bn are not enough to meet its creditors' claims of $18.8bn, and the company is therefore insolvent.

The oil firm argues that it has only been informed of debts of $16.9bn, and that the recent rise in oil prices has lifted the value of its assets to at least $30bn, meaning that Yukos is a "viable going concern".

The creditor's meeting was later postponed until 25 July.

If Yukos is liquidated, Rosneft could end up acquiring more Yukos assets, including some of Russia's biggest refineries.




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