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NTV Chief Yordan, Eurofinance President Cited On Gazprom-Media Stock Sale Deal

CEP20021001000198 Moscow Izvestiya in Russian 28 Sep 02


  1. Russia: Politicians, journalists seen generally supportive of Gazprom media deal CEP20020927000192 Moscow Interfax English 1315 GMT 27 Sep 02

[Report by Mila Kuzina: "Gazprom-Media Will Be No More" -- taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]

In a solemn ceremony yesterday [27 September], a portion of shares in Gazprom-Media, a holding company that includes all the former companies of Vladimir Gusinskiy, was sold.   Gazprom chief Aleksey Miller has signed an agreement to sell 49 percent of the media holding company to a commercial bank Eurofinance.   A price of the deal has not been cited.   It is known that the bank intends to invest $100 million in mass media and assumes an obligation to reschedule Gazprom-Media's debts worth a huge sum of almost $1 billion.  

The new shareholders have decided together with Gazprom to create, based on Gazprom-Media, a new holding with a different name.   Indeed, the old one was not too good.   It is strongly associated with a great deal of financial and political scandals.   Yesterday, NTV Deputy General Director Rafael Akopov jokingly offered to name the new formation as Euro Gas Media.

Rumor that NTV, TNT, Sem Dney, the Trud newspaper, and other media from Gazprom-Media will be sold has been circulating for more than one year now.   Gazprom repeatedly declared that it regarded media as its non-core business and that it intended to sell it.

As Gazprom-Media General Director Aleksandr Dybal said, Eurofinance "contacted Gazprom on its own several months ago."   "There were simply no other worthy buyers.   There was, of course, talk that someone wanted to buy NTV and someone TNT.   Eurofinance came up right away with a plan for further restructuring of all the company's debts," Mr. Dybal has explained.

"Earlier, I did not work with Eurofinance," Boris Yordan, the NTV general director and board of directors chairman, has added.   "Their appearance came as a surprise, a pleasant surprise."   Boris Yordan himself declared many times readiness to buy Gusinskiy's media legacy.   This is why he came to head NTV and then Gazprom-Media.   People in Gazprom say that Mr. Yordan's desire gradually wore away.   This happened after it became known about multimillion debts of the holding company.   Asked by Izvestiya why he himself did not buy a portion of the Gazprom shares, Yordan replied: "I do not have $100 million."   Now, for the work done at Gazprom-Media, Boris Yordan was given 5 percent of the NTV shares and 5 percent of shares in the entire media holding company.   Yet, this parcel does not have voting power, while 10 percent of the voting NTV shares will go to the channel's "creative staff."

Asked why his bank bought a media business burdened with such high debts, Eurofinance Chairman Vladimir Stolyarenko confidently replied:   "It is a strategic investment into the dynamically developing Russian media market.   We hope for a major increase in capitalization of the new media holding company." Messrs. Miller and Stolyarenko have assured that they will not meddle in editorial policy of the mass media from the holding company because "their independence increases capitalization."

In Aleksey Miller's words, the sale of shares to Eurofinance is just the first stage in Gazprom-Media's restructuring.   Miller has not ruled out sales of more shares from the Gazprom-owned controlling stake.   For his part, Vladimir Stolyarenko has announced his bank's intention of "consolidating the Gazprom assets" (which means, increasing over time a stake in the new media to the controlling level).

Speaking about the Eurofinance ownership structure, Mr. Stolyarenko has declared that his bank is not connected with any major financial corporation:   "Nobody holds more than 20 percent of the bank's shares."   According to Izvestiya's information, this declaration is not quite correct, to put it mildly.   The register of shareholders says that 19.98 percent of the Eurofinance shares is owned by Vneshekonombank and 9.97 percent by Vneshtorgbank.   As Vneshtorgbank is currently finishing the process of taking over Vneshekonombank and is going to gain control over the latter's commercial assets, one can confidently state that almost 30 percent of Eurofinance practically belongs specifically to Vneshtorgbank.   The situation will become even more interesting if you recall that since the beginning of this past summer Eurofinance has been negotiating to merge its business with a London-based financial institution named Moscow Narodny Bank.   As much as 88 percent of that Russian foreign-based bank is owned by the Central Bank.   The process of the Central Bank withdrawing from capital of Russian foreign-based banks is to end within the next two to three years, and then the bank will almost certainly go to Vneshtorgbank.   Thus, behind Vladimir Stolyarenko's back one can see the much more powerful back of Vneshtorgbank President Andrey Kostin.

In addition, the deal partners do not conceal that they would like to increase radically the capitalization of the new holding company.   This requires very powerful financial resources, which a bank of Eurofinance's scale hardly has.

[Description of Source: Moscow Izvestiya in Russian -- One of Russia's most prominent dailies; controlled by Vladimir Potanin although Lukoil owns a minority share.]


Gazprom Management Reorganization Viewed

CEP20020926000241 Moscow Vedomosti in Russian 23 Sep 02

[Report by Irina Reznik: "New Faces at Gazprom" ]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Vedomosti learned that the Chairman of the Board of Gazprom, Aleksey Miller intends to change the structure and composition of the management of the gas monopoly. Director General of Gazeksport Aleksandr Medvedev, head of the Gazprombank Yuriy Lvov, and Chief of Gazkomplektimpeks, Vladimir Leviyev should be members of the executive organ, but the number of executives will be increased by a third. By the way, the Council of Directors still must approve this plan. After last year's series of resignations of top Gazprom managers, the executive corps of the company decreased by a third. Now, as a source close to Gazprom management told Vedomosti, Miller intends to increase the size of management from 14 to 21 persons. In the words of the source, Deputy Chairman of the Department for Gas Extraction Boris Nikitin will leave the company. The head of his department, Vasiliy Podyuk, also a former representative of "Vyakhirov's company", will take his place in management. In addition, a Vedomosti informant said that Aleksey Miller intends to bring the Director General of Gazkomplektimpeks Vladimir Leviyev, the head of Gazprombank Yuriy Lvov and the Director General of Gazeksport Aleksandr Medvedev into management.

Gazkomplektimpeks, the enterprise for the purchase of equipment, which was led by Vyacheslav Sheremet under Rem Vyakhirev, was one of those black holes into which millions of dollars flowed from the monopoly in a practically uncontrolled fashion.

The role of Gazkomplektimpeks is increasing [in 2003 Gazkomplektimpeks is slated to get $2.2 billion]," said a Gazprom employee. "Previously only a fourth of the purchases of equipment for Gazprom went through this structure, while the monopoly's "affiliates" independently purchased from whom they wanted. Now all of this will be centralized. In a year or two Gazkomplektimpeks should be purchasing up to 80% of the equipment. Leviyev will have control over issues of material-technical provision for Gazprom. The appointment of Aleksandr Medvedev to the management of the monopoly, where there is already one "export boss"- Deputy Chairman of the Board Yuriy Komarov, a Vedomosti informant attributes to "a strengthening of the gas export direction."

The head of Gazprombank, Yuriy Lvov will be responsible for the mutual relations with banks and possibly will get a portion of the present powers of the Deputy Chairman of Gazprom Boris Yurlov. As several sources familiar with Gazprom affairs explained to Vedomosti right off, Lvov, as well as his predecessor, hoped for a place in the Gazprom Council of Directors, but he was promised only a place in management. Kirill Seleznev, head of the Department of Marketing and Processing of Gas and Liquid Hydrocarbons and Konstantin Yuychenko, head of the Gazprom Judicial Department, will also become new members of management.

A Vedomosti informant in the Presidential Administration is certain that the new appointments mean "a serious shakeup among the top managers of the monopoly." He recalled that in carrying out personnel changes in the autumn of 2001, Miller, wishing to "preserve the continuity of authority" brought new people into the management without removing the previous managers. As a result, for a few months the same functions in Gazprom were carried out by two people at the same time: for example the new Gazprom head bookkeeper Yelena Vasilyeva copied the experience of the old one, Irina Bogatyreva, while the head of the Department of Investment Yuriy Goryaninov transferred his affairs to Mikhail Akselrod from St. Petersburg.

"Having undertaken a second personnel revolution, Miller decided to follow the same path," explained the source.

It is noteworthy that Miller decided to leave Nikolay Guslistyy, the former "Vyakhirev lieutenant" in the management. "It is odd that they left Guslistyy in the Gazprom management," said Aton analyst Steven Dashevskiy. "Miller had enough political resources for the return of assets, but for good operation the monopoly still needs an effective and consolidated team of managers, which has not existed up to now. Letting Guslistyy remain in such a situation means strengthening the growing disenchantment among investors."

[Description of Source: Moscow Vedomosti in Russian -- Business paper published jointly with The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times; reportedly friendly with Kremlin.]


Source-Date: 09/20/2002
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