Russian oil giant Yukos defaults on $1bn loan

The future of Yukos, Russia's largest private oil company, looked increasingly bleak last night after it admitted it had defaulted on a $1bn (£547m) bank loan and that immediate repayment was unrealistic.

The bombshell came in a crunch week for Yukos, which is facing a Wednesday deadline to pay a $3.4bn tax bill which it says it cannot honour immediately because its assets are frozen. Bruce Misamore, its chief financial officer, said: "Actions of representatives of the Russian government have led Russia's most credit-worthy company to the brink of an unintended and artificial situation of possible bankruptcy, creating a ridiculous situation of default on its bank loans at a time when the company is experiencing the best results in its history."

Most Western observers feel that Yukos is being persecuted by the government for the perceived sins of its jailed former chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Still a principal shareholder in Yukos through his holding group Menatep, Mr Khodorkovsky incurred the wrath of the Kremlin when he began taking an interest in opposition politics. He is currently standing trial for fraud and embezzlement in a case which critics have claimed is politically motivated.

The legal onslaught on his company appears to be reaching a critical stage with pressure on Yukos mounting daily. The company's offices were raided again on Saturdayand important files carted off. The authorities have also warned that Yukos will be served with another back tax bill for $3.4bn.

Yukos sources said the company may have to start scaling back production as analysts moved to downgrade its battered shares and news leaked out that minority shareholders are suing executives for misleading them.

There was a crumb of hope for the company, however, when Société Générale, the head of the creditor consortium that arranged the $1bn loan, said it would not demand immediate payment. But United Financial said it was pessimistic about Yukos's future. "The escalation in the brinkmanship between the state and Menatep suggests neither side will flinch, pointing to contentious asset sales dragging on for months," it said in a research note.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk