Yukos Oil plans to pay a total dividend of $500 million on 2001 earnings, a rise of some sixty seven percent over last year, as Russia's second largest oil producer and its peers try to bolster share prices by boosting returns to shareholders. Yukos's board recommended a dividend of 6.82 rubles (21.9 cents) a share, up from 3.84 rubles, the company has said. The total payout is about sixteen percent of 2001 profit, compared with the 8.8 percent paid on earnings from the previous year, the daily Vedomosti reported, citing Valery Nesterov, an analyst at Troika Dialog. “Yukos is overcapitalized and struggling to drill its way into its cash pile,” said Adam Landes, director of oil and gas research at Renaissance Capital in London. “It has very low investment needs, so this dividend is totally appropriate.” Russian oil companies are increasing dividends to bolster their share prices and attract investors. Lukoil, which is the largest oil producer in the country, last week said it would increase its total dividend by about a fifth to $411 million. Sibneft, the sixth largest producer, last year paid a Russian record dividend of $612 million, returning ninety percent of 2000 net income to shareholders.
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land