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Misamore's capitalist plot

After seven decades of Communism, Russians can hardly be blamed for being in a hurry to get on with capitalism.

Nonetheless, Russian oil giant Yukos's American CFO, Bruce Misamore, sees no need to rush a New York Stock Exchange listing, despite shareholders' clamor to do so.

Misamore explains that he wants to ensure that all the t's are crossed and i's dotted. Yukos is already listed in Moscow and may have made strides in corporate governance, but a Big Board slot would expose it to heightened scrutiny.

Still, Platon Lebedev, a member of a group of key shareholders that includes controlling shareholder and Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, told wire services that the company would apply by late August for a listing. This is most likely a ploy to up the pressure on western oil companies to buy minority stakes in Yukos, says a Moscow-based analyst. The company is looking for help marketing its oil in the West.

"I would like to list by at least mid-2003," says the 52-year-old Misamore, a former Pennzoil finance chief who joined Yukos in April 2001. "But we are still making sure that we understand all the reporting requirements." Some speculate that he's stalling until markets rebound or until he can make Yukos's books more presentable. Says one Moscow-based analyst, "As long as the company puts off the listing, people will continue to assume they have something to hide." To that, Misamore retorts that the financial reporting reforms at Yukos prove that "this is a changed company."