Surgutneftegaz Elects New Chairman

Closely held oil firm Surgutneftegaz has elected a career oil manager, Vladimir Yerokhin, as its new chairman after the previous head of the board of directors, Nikolai Zakharchenko, resigned for health reasons.

Surgut said in a statement that Yerokhin, who has headed Surgut's drilling division for over 30 years but became a director only earlier this year, had been elected Tuesday and would serve until the next annual meeting.

It did not give Yerokhin's age. The firm's web site says he was born in 1949.

Analysts closely watch changes at reclusive Surgut, as the company is repeatedly rumored to be an acquisition target given its complicated shareholding structure and billions of dollars of spare cash in its accounts.

State-controlled energy majors Gazprom and Rosneft have often been named as potential bidders, although the firms and Surgut's influential general director, Vladimir Bogdanov, have repeatedly denied the speculation.