Yukos replaces CEO

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The Independent Online

The Russian oil giant Yukos has brought in Viktor Gerashchenko, a former central bank chief, to spearhead its effort to avoid bankruptcy by seeking to settle a massive tax bill.

At its annual meeting, Yukos also replaced its chief executive Simon Kukes with the US oilman Steven Theede.

Analysts said Mr Kukes had failed to make progress in a $3.4bn (£1.9bn) tax dispute, and Mr Gerashchenko - a proven crisis manager - would be able to bring his establishment credentials to the negotiating table.

Mr Theede, a former senior executive at the energy giant ConocoPhillips, comes in at a time when Yukos is mired in court battles and its main shareholder and former chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky is on trial for fraud.

"My task in my new post is to maintain the leading position of Yukos," Mr Theede said.

Managers at Russia's largest oil company have tried unsuccessfully to open talks with ministers over the tax bill.

Last week, Yukos proposed handing over assets in lieu of tax and buying out the 32 per cent stake of Mr Khodorkovsky.