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Yukos, bankrupted by state, valued at $22 bln

OAO Yukos Oil Co., was valued by appraisers at more than $22 billion, or about 85% of its outstanding debt, five months after it was declared bankrupt.

A team of appraisers presented the preliminary estimate today, said Eduard Rebgun, the company's acting manager, in an e-mailed statement. Yukos, once Russia's largest oil producer, was declared bankrupt last year after it was hit with claims for $30 billion in back taxes. CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky was convicted in 2005 of fraud and tax evasion, which he claimed were part of a political campaign against him and his company. Rebgun asked the appraisers to complete the valuation of Yukos assets „in the shortest time possible.” He will than be able to draw up a plan to auction off the assets, the statement said.

Yukos's four foreign assets are not included in the preliminary valuation because of the „unwillingness of former top managers to present the relevant information,” the statement said. PKN Orlen SA, Poland's largest oil company, last year bought a 53.7% stake in Lithuanian refiner AB Mazeikiu for $1.5 billion from Netherlands-based Yukos International UK BV. Moscow-based Yukos's total debt stands at $26 billion, with more than half of that claimed by the Federal Tax Service. OAO Rosneft, the second largest creditor, last year took over a bankruptcy suit initially filed by a group of foreign banks. Rosneft tripled its production after buying Yukos's main production unit, which the government seized and sold at an auction in 2004. (Bloomberg)