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Russia's Gazprom to liberalize share trade

CEP20021026000004 Moscow Interfax in English 2124 GMT 25 Oct 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

MOSCOW. Oct 26 (Interfax) - The board of directors of Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom has two main items on the agenda for an October 31 meeting - liberalization of the market for Gazprom shares and the state of the Russian gas market, a Moscow source said on Friday.
  "I can say that, as regards the former:, the proposals are essentially for the accelerated liberalization of the market for [Gazprom] shares: All conditions are ripe for this," the source told Interfax.
  "I think that the state de facto controls more than 55% of Gazprom shares," he said. This, he said, enabled the government to seek the earliest possible access to Gazprom shares market for nonresidents.
  He said liberalization of the market would be of political as well as economic significance.
  "The Russian president has personally promised this to investors, a government commission was set specially for this in spring 2001, but nothing has happened. It's clear that there's no reason for any more procrastination," the source said.
  Liberalization means that "many of the financial problems of the company will be solved," he said. "I don't exclude that, as early as in 2003, the price of the shares will double and reach 1.5 to two dollars. For this reason the sale by the state of even 2% of shares would make it possible to draw very substantial investment into the company for solving its business problems."
  Also, short of investment, Gazprom needs a free gas market in Russia, according to the source.
  "Only if one has seen and assessed commercial demand for gas can one cite any arguments in favor of:a tariff policy," the source said.
[Description of Source: Moscow Interfax in English -- non-government information agency known for its aggressive reporting, extensive economic coverage, and good coverage of Russia's regions]


Russia: Consumer Accounting With Gazprom By Non-Monetary Means Increasing

CEP20021018000269 Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Russian 17 Oct 02

[Report by Polina Kanevskaya: "Gazprom To Be Paid in Paper; Consumers Settling Accounts For Gas With Promissory Notes"]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    As the all-knowing statistics have determined, Gazprom is not only insisting on a large-scale increase in tariffs on its products, but is also tightening control over payment for the fuel that has already been supplied.   And the consumer, although he is paying more, is trying to settle accounts with the aid of barter and various financial surrogates.   Moreover, the increase in volumes of non-monetary form of accounting with the gas monopoly has already taken on entirely tangible proportions.   According to data publicized by Goskomstat [State Committee on Statistics] yesterday, the volume of products of the gas monopoly paid for in August comprised 100.4 billion rubles (R), which is 9.1 percent more than the month before.   Revenues in "live" money increased by 7.3 percent as compared with July.   But this is far from the whole truth about the way in which consumers settle their accounts with the monopoly.

    At the same time, the relative share of promissory notes in the overall volume of payments for products by consumers increased by 58.2 percent.   Mutual offsets increased by 11.1 percent, and barter--by 3.3 times.   On the whole, the relative share of accounting in monetary means at Gazprom in August declined by 1.5 percentage points as compared with July.   The volume of promissory note accounting increased proportionately.  

    Meanwhile, Gazprom itself is trying to reduce the volume of funds raised for its own promissory notes.   By the end of the year, the monopoly plans to issue its own loan bonds on the domestic market for a sum of R5 billion.   The final date for the start of the bond offering will be approved by the Gazprom board of directors after completion of state registration of the emission with the FKTsB [Federal Commission on the Securities Market].   With this emission--which has been almost 2 years in the making--Gazprom plans to mark the beginning of development of a market in its bonds.   As the head of the Gazprom press service, Igor Plotnikov, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the emission of domestic bonds is good for the company in that it "makes it possible to diversity sources of raising capital, while at the same time extending the terms and reducing the cost of this fundraising."   Gazprom is always in need of borrowing to replenish its working capital, but now most major Russian banks which work with the monopoly have already exhausted their credit standards for a single borrower.   And a domestic bond issue allows the gas monopoly to attract other resources of domestic business.

    As Mikhail Zak, an analyst with the Prospekt Investment Company, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, this is "a convenient method for the company, which requires huge funds for introduction of that same Zapolyarnyy deposit."   Especially since the effectiveness of such a method of raising funds on the domestic market has already been proven by the Alrosa Diamond Company, as well as by a number of metallurgical companies.

[Description of Source: Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Russian -- daily Moscow newspaper aimed at an elite audience and controlled by Boris Berezovskiy]


Russian Far East Energy Development, Gazprom Promissory Note Market Eyed

CEP20021018000286 Moscow Stringer News Agency WWW-Text in Russian 4 Oct 02

[Unattributed article: "The Volume of Gazprom Promissory Notes Is Comperable to the Money Supply of the Russian Federation"]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    An agreement has been reached between Deripaska and Chubays that Rusal will be the strategic investor for the Bureya hydroelectric power station in the Far East. Previously Chubays planned that he would complete construction of the Bureya Hydroelectric Power Station Joint-Stock Company jointly with the Ministry of Railways, but with Aksenenko's departure these plans have fallen through.

    The stimulating motive for such an act by Deripaska comes from Rusal's plans to construct a new aluminum plant in the region. In any event it will not lose out. If it does not build the plant -- it will still obtain control over the Far Eastern energy market. This is also a highly promising idea. After all the joint-stock company has itself admitted that a fully-fledged energy market cannot be created in socially peculiar Primorye. And this means that the investor who invests in regional energy today will be able to control the economy of the Far East for 50 years.

    So far Deripaska has not been able to gain access today's most popular source of receipts for the future financing of elections -- Gazprom promissory notes.

    At present Gazprom's promissory note program is changing greatly (and the volume of the gas concern's promissory notes is comparable to the monetary supply in the Russian Federation). Until 2002 promissory notes were handled by Mezhregiongaz, where Deripaska set up his persistent assistant -- Karklin. The latter, moreover, has long been well acquainted with Zaostrovtsev. After implementing the promissory note schemes, Mezhregiongaz only shared the profit with "big Gazprom." Now, however, Mezhregiongaz has been pushed aside from this program. Gazprom's new, Petersburg leadership is working with certain firms (Veles Kapital, Kalugaglavsnab and YuNEP). Notably, YuNEP Director General Mikhaylov is the husband of Mezhregiongaz's planning department head. The greatest turnover is that of Veles: 9 billion rubles for the first quarter (this represents half of Gazprom's entire current promissory note program). This scheme has already made Mezhregiongaz's activities unprofitable, which attests that "promissory note funds" go into a "special program," not associated with Gazprom's needs.

[Description of Source: Moscow Stringer News Agency WWW-Text in Russian -- website devoted to compromat and exposes of politicians; reportedly supported by former Yeltsin bodyguard Korzhakov and the Yukos oil company]



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