David P. Sims, CPA Blog | Exxon Shareholders Beware the Same Fate as Yukos | Talkmarkets
Certified Public Accountant

David Sims is a Certified Public Accountant residing in Richmond, Virginia.

Exxon Shareholders Beware the Same Fate as Yukos

Date: Friday, December 16, 2016 11:54 AM EDT

Most people are aware that Rex Tillerson is President-elect Trump's pick for Secretary of State. Some are also aware that Tillerson has deep ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Some Exxon (XOM) shareholders may be excited to learn that Tillerson has been trying to open up Russian oil reserves to development for years.

Forbes reports,

"Exxon has a $720 million joint venture with Rosneft, run by Putin's friend Igor Sechin. That deal has been put on ice since the White House sanctioned Russian oil and gas companies in July 2014.

So, it comes as no surprise to hear speculation that Tillerson's key goal in relations with Russia may be to end these oil sanctions. Although Tillerson stepped down from his post at Exxon, he still holds $233 million worth of the company's stock.  So, there is financial incentive.

The question remains whether the United States would want to deepen ties with Russia. Exxon shareholders and all U.S. citizens should look no further than Yukos for a reason why this relationship is concerning.   Yukos is one of the largest companies to be nationalized by a governmental power.  Shareholders promptly filed suit in international courts.

 In 2002, Yukos was Russia’s largest company in the sector and listed as one of the world’s top ten oil and gas companies by market capitalization. The claimants complained that, starting in July 2003, Russia took a series of measures leading to Yukos being declared bankrupt in August 2006. Yukos was eventually struck off the registry of companies in November 2007 and its assets nationalized. Russian state-owned companies Gazprom and Rosneft acquired Yukos’ remaining assets.

In 2014, a court located at the Hague ruled in favor of shareholders.

An international court has awarded the shareholders of the now-defunct Yukos oil company more than $50 billion, ruling that the Russian government wrongly seized the company from one of the country’s most powerful oligarchs.

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