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Simon Kukes

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Updated: 12.11.2003

Russian oil company Yukos CEO

Simon Kukes, the man chosen to take over the helm of Russian oil giant Yukos from jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is no stranger to the energy business.

The 56-year-old new chief executive's career as an oilman spans 25 years, most recently as head of fellow Russian oil major TNK since 1998. His credentials there include the recent $7.7bn joint venture signed with Britain's BP.

Mr Kukes is Russian-born but emigrated to the US in 1977, heading for Texas - the epicentre of the US oil trade - and taking out citizenship thereafter.

The 1980s saw him at Phillips Petroleum and then at Amoco, now part of BP, where he ran the company's business development in the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

By 1996 he was back in Russia for his first spell at Yukos. He returned to the company earlier this year.

His status as an expatriate is seen by some as a means of making it more difficult for the Russian government to put direct pressure on him.

In his first outing before the press in Moscow, Mr Kukes was at pains to stress his plans for a smooth handover.

"We don't plan any changes in company behaviour because the company is behaving normally," he told reporters.

"Everything stays intact and we have a strong team."

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