Business & Finance

The back-taxes burden on oil industry giant Yukos grew to $6.1 billion as the Russian government added a collection order for 2001 to the unpaid portion of the company's bill for the year before. The order may be enforced immediately if the Tax Ministry so chooses. But President Vladimir Putin repeated his assertion Tuesday that he isn't trying to bankrupt the company, and, so far, the ministry has moved to collect only unpaid tax and interest, not the fines and other penalties that also apply. Ultimately, Yukos is expected to be served with claims for more than $10 billion, covering back taxes, interest, and penalties for 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, sources familiar with the situation said. To date, the company has paid $2 billion of the $3.4 billion it was billed for 2000. Meanwhile, its bank accounts and those of its subsidiaries have been frozen by the courts.

Bain Capital of Boston, a leading private equity investor, is among three billion-dollar bidders for CBR Holding, one of Europe's largest clothing retailers, reported. The other bidders were identified as Apax Partners Worldwide and Cinven Ltd., both of London. CBR markets women's apparel in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Britain, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Invesco Funds Group and its sister company, AIM Advisors Inc., agreed to return $375 million - almost all of it to investors - in one of the largest settlements to date in the mutual-fund industry's market-timing scandal, according to the Colorado Attorney General's Office. The agreement Tuesday also resolves pending investigations by attorneys general in New York and Georgia as well as by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Regulators have accused the companies, both of which are subsidiaries of Britain's AMVESCAP PLC, of defrauding shareholders by systematically seeking out wealthy investors for quick, in-and-out trades. While legal, the practice skims profits from longer-term shareholders. The settlement leaves unresolved the status of ex-Invesco chief Raymond Cunningham, who has been charged with fraud by the SEC. Invesco is based in Denver and AIM Advisors in Houston.

Ford Motor Co. said it will eliminate the second shift and 800 jobs at its suburban St. Louis assembly plant, effective Jan. 3. The decision, announced Tuesday, was postponed months ago but remained pending as Ford adjusted production to declining sales of sport-utility vehicles, three of which - the Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, and Lincoln Aviator - are built at the St. Louis plant.

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