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Russian government not planning to sell Gazprom, UES shares in 2003

CEP20020920000070 Moscow Interfax in English 0738 GMT 20 Sep 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

  MOSCOW. Sept 20 (Interfax) - The Russian government is not planning to sell shares in gas giant Gazprom or electricity monopoly Unified Energy System in 2003, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said.
  There is no need to sell Gazprom or UES shares in order to raise budget revenues, Kudrin said at a round table on the draft federal budget for 2003.
  The government wants to maintain controlling stakes in these companies while they are being restructured, Kudrin 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]


Yusufov Statement on UK Gas Reform Could Signal Demonopolization of Gazprom

CEP20020917000241 Moscow Kommersant in Russian 17 Sep 02

[Report by Irina Rybalchenko under the "Gas Market" rubric: "Energy Ministry Bids Farewell to Gazprom in the British Manner" -- taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Igor Yusufov, head of the Russian Federation Ministry of Energy, believes that Russia should be guided by British experience when it comes to the liberalization of the gas sector.  This report was released yesterday by the ministry's press service.  Given that the British gas market is completely liberalized this statement could mean that the Ministry of Energy has officially come out in favor of the demonopolization of Gazprom.

   Mr. Yusufov made the statement that the British experience of restructuring the gas sector could be used in Russia during a meeting with Joan MacNaughton, director general of the UK Department of Trade and Industry's Energy Group.  Ms. MacNaughton promised to share that experience and noted the role of the state in this process.

   Analysts viewed Mr. Yusufov's statement with great interest.  "The minister's statement is more political in character.  If the Ministry of Energy is advocating the British model for the development of the gas market this means that it is de facto supporting the idea of the demonopolization of Gazprom and is advocating equal access to the gas pipeline," a spokesman for ExxonMobil, the US oil and gas company, claims.

   The significant difference between the gas market in Britain and the market in other European countries is that there is an unlimited number of suppliers working in it.  For comparison's sake, the gas network in France is only 20 percent opened up.  The reform of the gas market in Britain began in the late eighties when the state-owned British Gas was split up into separate components -- those responsible for transport and for production and sale -- and consumers can now buy gas at unregulated prices.

   Until yesterday no federal ministry had ventured to make such high-profile statements about the restructuring of the gas market.  And Mr. Yusufov's comment could mean that the White House has now made its choice.  The first steps could follow in the next few months:  According to an unofficial report the government decree on the creation of a gas commodity exchange should be signed by the fall (this project will cost approximately $300,000).  Let us recall that before the end of the year Gazprom plans to sell 10 billion cubic meters of gas in the commodity exchange and in 2003 5 percent of the volume of gas output could be sold at auction.

   Within Gazprom itself people have reacted completely calmly to the statement by the head of the Ministry of Energy.  "So long as gas prices are regulated by the state the preconditions for the creation of a free market do not exist," Stanislav Tsygankov, chief of Gazprom's foreign relations department, stated to Kommersant.  And he stressed that the British gas market model is not entirely appropriate to Russia:  For example, because of the free access to the gas pipe there are a great many speculators operating in the British market who do not produce gas but merely buy it and sell it on.  "Furthermore, since liberalization Britain, which previously had its own gas, is now forced to import it," Mr. Tsygankov said, summing up.

[Description of Source: Moscow Kommersant in Russian -- Informative daily newspaper purchased by Boris Berezovskiy in 1999 and often reflecting his viewpoint.]

Gazprom Meets With Auditors Over Concerns

CEP20020916000020 Moscow Kommersant in Russian 13 Sep 02 P11

[Article by Irina Rybalchenko: "Gazprom Calls the Auditors on the Carpet"]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Yesterday the Gazprom chief Aleksey Miller met with Keith Roden, controlling partner of the Department of Auditing and Consulting Services of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Audit Company (PwC). At the meeting the preparation of the interim financial report of Gazprom for the first half of this year was discussed. This is a key issue for Gazprom now - in October the concern plans to conduct a road show for the release of securities in the USA, and it is important that these measures be carried out without incidents. We recall that Gazprom is planning to float securities worth $750 million for a 10-year term. Already at the end of August Aleksey Miller stated the following: "The procedure for issuing securities on the American market is more complicated than in Europe, however Gazprom is ready to work in the new format." The complexity stems from the tougher demands of American investors concerning the financial reporting of the issuing company.

Yesterday Aleksey Miller invited PwC's representative Keith Roden (Gazprom's auditor) to Gazprom. The deputy chief of Gazprom Boris Yurlov and the head bookkeeper Yelena Vasiliyeva participated in the meeting. They discussed the degree of readiness of the interim financial report for the first half of the year, as well as the issue of preparing a report according to Russian and international standards for 2002. Probably the Gazprom chief had quite a few questions for the auditor: in summing up the meeting he announced that he intends to hold another working meeting by the end of September, this time with Richard Paterson, head of the PwC Global Service.

Aleksey Miller has cause for concern. We recall that at the end of May another Russian company - TNK, whose auditor was also PwC, was forced to recall an already floated Euro security. As it turned out the New York office of PwC discovered inexact points in the auditor's conclusions of the TNK financial report (Kommersant wrote about this).

Yesterday Gazprom financial operations in the domestic market were made public-on August 26, Gazprom floated bonds worth 5 billion rubles. Analysts have already called this operation the largest bond program of any Russian company in 2002. Within the scope of this program there were three types of bonds the aggregate face value of which totaled 5 billion rubles, with terms of between 19 and 21 months. The lead organizer was the AKB [Commercial Joint Stock Bank] Doveritelnyy I Investitsionnnyy Bank and the co organizers were Veb-Invest-Bank and Transkreditbank.

However that was not the only news from Gazprom. The head of the concern managed to meet yesterday with Yuriy Neyelov and Aleksey Chernyshev, governors of the Yamal-Nenetskiy Autonomous Region and the Orenburg Oblast. Mr. Neyelov asked the Gazprom chief to keep the tax payments into the regional budget steady - in the words of the governor the transfer of 10.6 billon rubles by affiliated companies of the firm allowed petroleum products to be brought into rayon districts with limited navigation times. Aleksey Miller promised to think about that until the end of October.

Issues of gasification, the development of the Orenburg Gas Chemical complex as well as a possible increase in the price of gas for industrial consumers were discussed with Mr. Chernyshev. The results of the talks were laconically placed in a Gazprom press release: "Aleksey Miller and Aleksey Chernyshev came to an agreement about coordinating work with the government."

[Description of Source: Moscow Kommersant in Russian -- Informative daily newspaper purchased by Boris Berezovskiy in 1999 and often reflecting his viewpoint.]


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