Year in Economic News, Part 2


2004-12-30

I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The Russian oil company, Yukos, continued its legal battle withthe Russian government in two-thousand-four. The government reportedthis year that Yukos owed more than twenty-seven thousand milliondollars in taxes. Russian officials ordered Yukos to pay the debt byselling one of its businesses – Yuganskneftegaz. It is the main oilproducing business of Yukos.

Yukos sought protection from itscreditors in a court in the United States. Judge Letitia Clarkbarred the sale of Yuganskneftegaz for ten days. She also barredRussia's largest natural gas company, Gazprom, from buying thecompany.

But within days, a Russian business, the Baikal Finance Group,bought Yuganskneftegaz. The group paid about nine thousand threehundred million dollars.

Soon after, officials of Baikal Finance Group offered to selltheir company to the Russian company Rosneft Oil. Last week, it wasannounced that Gazprom would join with Rosneft in January. TheRussian government is the majority owner of Gazprom.

Lawyers for Yukos say the offer to buy Yuganskneftegaz isillegal. They say Gazprom is using companies it controls to seizethe most valuable part of Yukos.

A decision was reached in another court case last week. TheEuropean Court of First Instance in Luxembourg ruled againstMicrosoft Corporation in a dispute with the European Union. Thecourt ordered Microsoft to pay about six hundred sixty-six milliondollars. It also ordered the company to change the way its sellssoftware products in Europe.

Software is the group of commands that makes a computer work.Microsoft connects its software products to its operating system,Windows. About ninety percent of all computers use Windows.

The European Commission on Competition ruled in March thatcombining, or bundling, software was unfair. It ordered Microsoft toprovide a version of Windows without other Microsoft softwareproducts. The company is appealing the ruling.

And, we started the year by reporting on the decreasing value ofthe American dollar. Since then, the dollar has dropped to a recordlow against the main money in Europe, the euro. The dollar also haslost about four percent of its value against the Japanese yen.Experts say the falling value of the dollar makes American exportsless costly.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by MarioRitter. This is Gwen Outen.