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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Creditors vote to bankrupt Yukos
Security guard outside Yukos headquarters
Yukos is fighting to stave off bankruptcy
Creditors of the Russian oil company Yukos have voted overwhelmingly to ask a bankruptcy court to liquidate the beleaguered firm.

The court is almost certain to agree to the request at a hearing scheduled for August 1 and will appoint a supervisor to sell its assets.

They rejected a last-ditch rescue plan put forward by Yukos management.

The decision will spell the end for what used to be the country's biggest privately-owned oil firm.

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

Assets likely to be sold off include some of Russia's biggest refineries with Rosneft among those who could benefit.

Conspiracy theory

Last week, Steven Theede quit as Yukos boss after denouncing the creditors' meeting as a "sham".

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 Khodorkovsky, who is currently serving a long prison sentence in Siberia.

In 2004, the back tax bill led to Yukos' main Yuganskneftegaz subsidiary being expropriated by the government and sold off at auction - to be ultimately acquired by Rosneft.

The sale led to a legal challenge from Yukos when Rosneft floated on the London Stock Exchange.

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.

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