YUKOS TO BE BROKE?

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MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - The Yukos petroleum mammoth will not manage payments on a Taxation Ministry winning suit. Bankruptcy will be its lot, say many experts. Others think it will afford.

The mammoth will survive, Alexander Razuvayev, MegaTrustOil head analyst, said to Novosti. "The Arbitration Court verdict was quite predictable-but then, it concerned a claim for 2000 alone, so the tax people may come up with more claims for other years," he warned. To pay 99.3 billion roubles, roughly US$3.5 billion, the controversial company will have to sell its assets for a song, and comply with the buyer's terms, he expects.

Maxim Shein, BrokerCreditService analytical board chief, is of the same opinion-the Yukos will afford. "The company will appeal against the verdict, so the matter is not yet settled. But, in the final analysis, I think it can pay unless creditor banks announce a default on loans to the Yukos." A default will hardly come now that Victor Geraschenko, once president of the Central Bank of Russia, has joined the Yukos Directors' Board, added Mr. Shein.

The 99 billion roubles may ruin Yukos, says Alexander Shokhin, who heads the Observation Council at the Renaissance Capital investment company. He, however, thinks the mammoth may find a way to keep afloat, and avoid bankruptcy and selling assets en masse.

Yukos stock did not plummet today as the verdict was long awaited, and rates reflected it, said Anatoli Kaplin, Aton Co. staff expert.

The Yukos came 1.5% down at the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange right after the verdict was announced, but was more than a percent above yesterday's closing time by 18.15 tonight. "The stock remains hopeful," comments Kaplin.

The Yukos is no longer Russia's worst market problem. It was clear long before what the verdict would be, and all who chose sold their stock off.

Kaplin expects Yukos slide lower down tomorrow-"but then, Yukos headaches are not all the market is about," he said.

Today's Moscow Arbitration Court verdict satisfies a federal Taxation Ministry claim to Yukos Co. The decision will enter into force thirty days after, unless appealed against.

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