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Russia: Gazprom CEO Miller Outlines Company's Short-Term Plans

CEP20020830000116 Moscow Kommersant in Russian 30 Aug 02 P 11

[Report by Irina Rybalchenko: "Gazprom To Borrow in USA"--taken from html version of source provided by ISP.]

[FBIS Translated Text]

    Yesterday in the central office of Gazprom, they celebrated the Day of Oil and Gas Sector Workers.   During the interval between the ceremonial part and the festivities, Gazprom Chairman of the Board Aleksey Miller told about the concern's short-term plans.   They include conducting a "road-show" in the USA on emission of bonds in the sum of $750 million, cooperation with independent gas producers, and expansion on the spot market of the European Union.

    "The procedure of entering the American securities market is more complicated than in Europe, but Gazprom is prepared to work in a new format," Aleksey Miller announced yesterday.   And he explained that the discussion centers around placing bonds in the sum of $750 million with a term of 10 years.   At the same time, the Gazprom head did not specify for what purposes the money raised would be used.

    The market perceived this news with pessimism.   Thus, an analyst for the NIKoil Company, Boris Gensburg, believes that the time for placing bonds on foreign markets has been inappropriately selected.   "Of course, foreigners have a good appetite for Gazprom, but in view of the present-day market conditions, the bonds may be placed at a reduced price," he insists.

    However, Gazprom also has other plans for expansion on foreign markets.   Thus, according to Mr. Miller, under conditions of liberalization of the European market, the question of accessing the end consumer has been raised.   "The first steps in this direction have already been taken.   This concerns deliveries to Italy and Germany.   But this question must also concern other members of the EU [European Union] as well," he specified.   At the same time, "in Brussels, no one is denying that long-term contracts are the basis of gas supply," explained the head of Gazprom.

    As for the Russian gas market, Gazprom intends to hold negotiations with all independent gas producers so as to develop a unified position.   "Negotiations will be held prior to review of the investment program and the budget of Gazprom in government at the end of November of this year," the head of Gazprom summarized.

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


Russian economy minister comments on forthcoming Gazprom reform

CEP20020821000039 Moscow Interfax in English 0820 GMT 21 Aug 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

 MOSCOW. Aug 21 (Interfax) - During the reform of Gazprom it is not planned to make such serious changes as during the reform of Unified Energy Systems of Russia and the Railways Ministry, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said.
  He said that there is not yet a legislative base to reform Gazprom and at the moment there is no active work being carried out on a concept.
  Gref noted that Gazprom has a problem with hypertrophied exports and the impossibility of liberalizing exports until export and domestic prices are balanced.
  "I think that by the end of this year we will decide on a succession of action, but in this area it is not planned to make such serious changes as in Unified Energy Systems of Russia or the Railways Ministry," Gref said in an interview with the newspaper Vedomosti on Wednesday.
  The minister said that during the reform of Gazprom it is necessary to first of all separate the transport component, start exchange trading in gas, release prices for the end consumer and establish equal access to the pipe. "Ultimately, this is all," he said.
  Gref noted that every reform of a natural monopoly is politically sensitive and equally as complicated economically. "Our reforms have no equivalents in the world in terms of scale, depth, and the technological backwardness of the industries being reformed, any rush here may lead to irreversible consequences," he said.
  "However, we should note that Gazprom will never be fully transparent if it is to participate on the market. The same applies to UES and the Railways Ministry and any other monopoly at a regional and federal level - there is no way of forcing these to be fully transparent," Gref noted.
[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]

Polish Gas Monopoly Privatization May Interest Gazprom

CEP20020816000228 Moscow Vedomosti in Russian 15 Aug 02

[Report by Irina Reznik: "Poland Sells the Pipeline" - taken from html version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Yesterday the Polish government approved a plan for the privatization of the gas monopoly PGNiG.   The state will retain a controlling stake - the remaining shares will be offered to strategic investors and placed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.   Gazprom is already exhibiting keen interest in the Polish privatization.

The PGNiG monopoly is Eastern Europe's largest gas production and transportation company.   It owns gas transportation networks and distribution companies in Poland.   In addition it owns a 48-percent stake in EuroPolGas - the operator of the Yamal-Europe project.   Gazprom holds a further 48 percent in this project and a 4-percent stake belongs to the Polish firm Gas-Trading, which in turn is 43.4-percent owned by PGNiG.   Annually Poland consumes about 12 billion cubic meters of gas (3.7 million cubic meters of this are its own production).   A further 7.6 billion cubic meters (94 percent of all imports) comes from Russia.   A total of 470 million cubic meters per year is imported from Eastern Germany.

As a PGNiG representative told Vedomosti, on Tuesday the Polish government approved a plan for the privatization of the Polish gas monopoly.   In his words, a package of shares in the state company will be put up for sale by the end of 2004.   The size of the stake in the holding that is to be privatized has not yet been determined, but the Polish government intends to retain 51 percent of PGNiG.   A source close to the Polish government has told Vedomosti that one possible option being examined involves the sale of 30-40 percent of PGNiG to a strategic investor, while a further 10 percent might be placed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.   Before the end of 2002 the holding will be deprived of its main asset - the six regional gas distribution companies [GPS] that distribute gas within Poland.   It is assumed that the GPS will be transferred to a specially created 100-percent subsidiary of PGNiG and put up for sale to strategic investors over a three-year period.   Controlling stakes in these companies will remain the property of this subsidiary.   "We have to invest considerable funds into the reconstruction of the GPS but these investments will pay off - after the liberalization of the European gas market they will operate at a large profit", believes Troyka Dialog analyst Valeriy Nesterov.   A senior representative of Gazprom has told Vedomosti that the monopoly has not yet reached a final decision as to whether or not it will participate in the Polish privatization.   "But it goes without saying that this is very interesting", he added.   "Gas transportation networks are a priority for us; the GPS are another matter", says Vedomosti's interlocutor.

Last year Gazprom exported 43.8 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe through Poland.   This year it plans to supply 47 billion cubic meters of gas.

"It would be surprising if Gazprom did not show interest in the Polish privatization", says Nesterov.   "It is true that the Poles will not sell cheaply.   It is worth remembering the sums that have been involved in the privatization of other Eastern European companies - the Czech Transgas and the Slovak SRR gas transportation company.   Therefore Gazprom is unlikely to make this purchase alone.   It is quite possible that the monopoly will act in a consortium with Gas de France and Ruhrgas.   Especially since these companies have already announced their interest in PGNiG".

Unlike Gazprom, Russian oilmen have not yet become interested in the Polish gas market.   A representative of one large oil company told Vedomosti that the privatization of PGNiG is unlikely to interest the oilmen, since the export of gas from Russia will probably remain centralized over the next few years.

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


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