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Russian born american replaces khordokovsky

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Tuesday November 4, 8:13 PM
Russia-born American named to head Russia's embattled Yukos

A Russian-born American has been named to replace Mikhail Khodorkovsky to head Russia's largest oil company, Yukos, the company said in a statement posted on its website.

Simon Kukes, 56, has been nominated to head the board of directors, the statement said.

Kukes, a member of Yukos' board of directors, emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in the 1970s but has since returned to Russia. He once worked for Russian oil company TNK.

Kukes will head the board of YukosSibneft, a company that was created when Yukos merged with a smaller rival Sibneft earlier this year.

The merger, due to be finalized at a shareholders' meeting in late November, created the world's fourth largest oil and gas producer.

Kukes worked in the US oil industry in Texas before returning to Russia after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. He once told a reporter he chose to work in Russia because "the work is interesting -- every day there is a new challenge."

Kukes's appointment came a day after Khodorkovsky resigned as Yukos chief executive. Khordokovsky, Russia's richest man, has been jailed on charges of massive fraud and tax evasion while prosecutors continue an investigation into Yukos.

The billionaire businessman obtained control of Yukos, then a collection of oilfields and refineries in Siberia, during the shadowy privatization deals of the 1990s, when people picked up choice Russian assets for bargain-basement prices at questionable auctions.

Over the years, Khordokovsky added assets and invested massively in Yukos. The oil giant was the first Russian major to adopt international accounting standards and hire western managers, in the wake of the country's 1998 financial crash,.

Today Yukos is considered the best governed and most transparent Russian business giant. It has a market capitalization of just under 30 billion dollars.

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