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Implications of Boris Yurlov Appointment as Gazprom?s Head of Finance Viewed

CEP20020531000008 Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Russian 28 May 02

[Report by Varvara Aglamishyan: ?Gazprom Replaces Its Financier. Presidential Staff Strengthens Its Position in Gas Monopoly? ? taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Gazprom's main financier has been replaced.   Yesterday [27 May], company head Aleksey Miller appointed to this post Boris Yurlov, Management Board deputy chairman in charge of the company's financial component.   Vitaliy Savelyev who occupied the post was dismissed "in connection with transfer to another job."

Most analysts believe that the replacement is not going to affect Gazprom significantly.   After all, the new deputy chairman for financial issues is not an independent political figure either, and the company is becoming "more and more state-run."   Boris Yurlov's previous job was in the Presidential Staff where he occupied the post of first deputy administrator of presidential affairs in charge of financial-economic issues.

According to Gazprom's press service, Boris Yurlov was born in Moscow on 31 March 1948.   In 1972, he graduated from the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute.   For many years he worked in the CPSU Central Committee staff and in February 1992 became a member of the collegium at the Russian Federation Ministry of Science, Higher Schooling, and Technological Policy.   In 1993-1994, he worked as chief of the Investment Administration, Management Board deputy chairman, and Management Board chairman of the Russian Bank for Reconstruction and Development.   He occupied the post of chief of the Oneksimbank KB [Commercial Bank] Investment Administration in 1994-1996.   In 1996-1998 he worked at Rossiyskiy Kredit KB.   In 1998-2000 he headed the Project Financing Administration at Russia's Sberbank.   In fact, for 10 years he was in charge of similar departments in various banks and tackled project and corporate financing issues.   Therefore, he is better known in industrial circles than in the banking sector.

In addition, a month ago, when forecasts regarding the upcoming resignation of Sberbank head Andrey Kazmin were voiced very distinctly, Boris Yurlov was considered one of the main candidates for the post.   However, at the end of April Kazmin was nominated the sole candidate for the post of Sberbank leader, and the Presidential Staff advised that Central Bank Chairman Sergey Ignatyev enter Yurlov on the list of candidates for Sberbank's Supervisory Council.   However, these plans are not fated to come true following Yurlov's transfer to Gazprom.   At the same time, the Bloomberg agency pointed out that the recent personnel reshuffle in Gazprom may be the beginning of the process to replace the incumbent gas concern Management Board Chairman Aleksey Miller by Presidential Chief of Staff Aleksandr Voloshin.   Having said that, the gas monopoly is not the only structure where Voloshin has been tipped for leadership with tiresome persistence for years now.

As for Vitaliy Savelyev, the analysts asked by Nezavisimaya Gazeta to comment on his departure from Gazprom pointed out that the company management could not have any formal complaints about him.   After all, it is Savelyev who was given credit for the stepping up of control over money flows and investments, the adoption of the company's financial strategy and investment program for the year, the issuance of bonds, and the implementation of a program for the development of internal auditing.   Troyka-Dialog investment company analyst Valeriy Nesterov pointed out that the replacement of Gazprom's main financier can be attributed to two reasons.   First, it is possible that the company leadership developed the impression that a more qualified specialist should work in this post.   And the work record of Savelyev, who prior to his transfer to Gazprom worked as Menatep Sankt-Peterburg Bank Management Board chairman, is not as impressive as Yurlov's.   Second, all the indications are that a purely human factor -- "incompatibility of characters" -- played its role also.   This happens when major ambitious players clash, Valeriy Nesterov pointed out.

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


Russian Economic Ministry Favors Gazprom Price Increase

CEP20020529000002 Moscow Vedomosti in Russian 29 May 02

[Article by Aleksandr Bekker and Bulat Stolyarov: "Miller Is in Luck" -- taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has acknowledged Gazprom's special needs.   According to the ministry's calculations, the gas company's rates will have to be raised by a third in the second half of the year.   The additional $500-700 million Gazprom will collect looks impressive in comparison with the zero rate increase for the MPS [Ministry of Railways] and the 20-percent increase in the YeES RAO basic fee for subscribers that German Gref's agency is recommending.   The railroads and electric companies are upset.

    Vedomosti learned about the contents of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade's proposals from a source on the government staff, who related the ministry's analysis of the state of affairs in the three monopolies, and the ministry's proposals, which were sent to the government on Monday and signed by Elvira Nabiullina, Gref's first deputy.   No one in the ministry would comment on the proposals.

    This is the first time Gref's subordinates have conducted a thorough analysis of the current and capital expenditure patterns of the monopolies.

    When they submitted their budgets to Gref's experts, YeES RAO requested a 70-percent increase in the subscriber fee, which would have provided the holding company with an extra 5 billion rubles for capital investment.   By approving a fee increase of only 20 percent, the government increased the holding company's income by only 3.35 billion rubles, explained Anatoliy Kopsov, the deputy chairman of the YeES RAO board.   He said that this amount would only be enough for the completion of the work on the Bureyskaya GES [hydroelectric power plant] and the restoration of the power-engineering sector in Chechnya.   The work on the Irganayskaya GES would have to stop.   The documents of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade say that raising the service fee by 20 percent will lead to a final increase of only 2.0-2.5 percent in electricity rates.   Brunswick UBS Warburg analyst Fedor Tregubenko agrees:   "The subscriber fee accounts for no more than 10 percent of the rates charged by regional power engineering systems.   Besides, the regional energy commissions are reluctant to raise rates."

    After reviewing MPS expenditures, Gref's agency brought "substantial internal reserves" to the attention of railroads and refused to raise rail rates.   Gennadiy Fadeyev, the head of the Ministry of Railways, had asked Gref to approve a 12-percent increase, citing the 40-billion-ruble hole in the MPS budget.   That is why MPS Deputy Minister Anna Belova was amazed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade's report.   "At working conferences we analyzed our costs in depth and agreed on a 7.3-percent increase.   That is why the contents of the report seem to question the value of our consultations."   Belova feels that the implementation of the Economic Ministry's proposals will turn railway transport into a "deliberately unprofitable sector."

    As for the Gazprom rate hike of 33.5 percent starting on 1 July, the report insists that the overall increase in rates will not exceed Kasyanov's 35-percent limit for the year.   Independent analysts disagree, however.   Stiven Dashovskiy from Aton said that "the cumulative effect will send the rate increase for the year up to almost 40 percent in view of the earlier 20-percent increase in February."

    According to Dashevskiy's calculations, this will give Gazprom an additional $500-700 million and will bring domestic gas prices up to the level of profitability.   Gazprom's own estimates, however, put losses in the domestic market at almost $2 billion a year, suggesting that profitability would require comparable rate increases for the next year and a half.   Meanwhile, a high-level source in the company is satisfied with Nabiullina's current recommendations:   "We are pleased that the ministry accepted our view of pricing practices."

    Now the head of YeES RAO, Anatoliy Chubays, will have to wage a battle with the government over another rate increase in FOREM [Federal Wholesale Market for Electricity and Generating Capacity].   After gas prices rise 33.5 percent, most of the power plants will be operating at a loss.   The calculations of Brunswick UBS Warburg's Tregubenko suggest that the equitable rise in wholesale rates for YeES RAO now would range from 10 to 15 percent.

    Experts are certain, however, that the government is guided solely by political considerations.   This is the opinion of Igor Nikolayev, the head of a department of the FBK Company.   Because of this, there will be no price increases in the power-engineering sector.   "The intersectorial structural report indicates that energy rate hikes would have the most direct inflationary impact, because the products of the power-engineering sector are used in all branches, and this has a perceptible effect on the expenditures of the MPS and Gazprom," explained Yevsey Gurvich, the head of the Economic Advisory Group.   The simultaneous rise in gas prices and discouragement of energy rate hikes, therefore, should have a minimal inflationary impact.

[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: 05/23/2002

Russia: Gazprom, US Secretary of Commerce discuss cooperation on gas

CEP20020523000175 Moscow ITAR-TASS in English 1238 GMT 23 May 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

By Andrey Baturin
  MOSCOW, May 23 (Itar-Tass) -- Head of Russia's natural gas giant company Gazprom Alexei Miller and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans discussed prospects for Russian-American cooperation in the gas sphere. The meeting was held in the Marfinsky hall of the Marriott Grand Hotel in Moscow on the initiative of the American side, Gazprom press service reported Thursday.

  The sides discussed the state of affairs on the world's energy markets, Gazprom's development strategy and the necessity of a more expanded dialogue between countries-producers and consumers of energy resources.

[Description of Source: Moscow ITAR-TASS in English -- main government information agency]


Russia: Aleksey Miller's First Year as Gazprom Head Assessed

CEP20020521000372 Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta in Russian 21 May 02 PP1,4

[Article by Aleksandr Zakharov: "The Quiet Chairman: On 30 May Gazprom Management Body Chair Aleksey Miller Will Mark His First Year of Incumbency at the Head of the Company" -- taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]
In order to assess the new chair's position it is enough to recall that Gazprom is where large-scale interests intersect, where the aims of effective management run into the commercial motives of predatory pretenders to tranches of property, and where the company's strategic course tacks between market preferences and objectives set by the state.   In addition to this, one year ago, the corporation was objectively in a difficult position:   They did not manage to put together Gazprom's budget without a shortfall, there was not enough money for the investment program that had been confirmed, valuable assets were hived off, and the old team did not intend to give the new chair the secrets of managing the enormous gas empire.   In this situation, without shutting our eyes to the numerous problems, it is worth deeming the balance of achievements and failures of Miller's gradually emergent team as positive.

Despite the persistent rumors that the new company head is inferior to the old one in terms of experience and business audacity, Miller has proved a powerful, although cautious, player.   Gazprom could not operate on a marketed brand alone and consequently its assets needed to be expanded and gas extraction needed to be increased.

So sending a political commissar only capable of waving a Mauser and shooting at the ceiling would have meant completely wrecking the affair.   Miller may not have been striking enough in the eyes of the public -- he was perceived as a representative of a generation of functionaries created for dreary routine work whose main direction is given from above.   But in fact the dull outward appearance corresponded to the position of someone who had concentrated on weaving together the knots of the fine and extensive web that he holds in his hands.   In that case, the new Gazprom head should have sensed the situation that was taking shape in the interplay of a large number of political, economic, and managerial factors.

Economic growth in 2001 was by no means rapid enough to provide an explosive increase in demand or an opportunity to raise the sale price of gas and in early 2002 it has slowed down still more, which has practically coincided with a fall in export prices.   The state's main requirement has remained providing Russian consumers with gas at fixed prices so its intervention has manifested itself almost exclusively in a 50-billion-ruble annual loss.   To this figure was added hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and chronic under-funding of gas field development, the cost price of the gas of which has inexorably grown in line with the movement to the north.   So it would have been much easier for the new team to simulate furious activity by rolling out a high-profile "restructuring" and raising a campaign blame the previous Gazprom leadership for all faults and failures.   The fact that Miller did not succumb to these temptations has not yet been sufficiently appreciated -- after all it would have been easiest of all to say "It is impossible to live like this" and to begin reforming Gazprom with an ax, chopping up what was still alive.

The state's interests are obvious.   They consist in increasing the corporation's export revenues that are replenishing the budget.   And, on the other hand, in expanding gas supplies to the domestic market, which needs "blue fuel":   A shortfall is already forming but if current extraction volumes are maintained, a number of estimates have it that by 2010 the shortfall will grow to 30 billion cubic meters a year.

The gas shortfall is currently being covered partially from cheaper Turkmen gas but the United States is persistently prodding the Turkmen authorities to reorient themselves toward transportation through the trans-Afghan gas pipeline.   Aleksey Miller's talks with Gurbannazar Nazarov, Turkmenistan's minister for the oil and gas industry and mineral resources, in Ashgabat this spring are encouraging but their outcomes still do not guarantee anything.   Miller's new team has gone for revising Gazprom's investment strategy:   Money will go into further developing the Yamal fields, the location of Gazprom's main resource base.

Three of the developed fields are already pretty much exhausted:   The Medvezhye field is 70% exhausted; the Urengoy field is 40% exhausted; and the Yamburg field is 30% exhausted.   Developing this bridgehead will require billions of dollars of investment.   It is beyond even Gazprom's powers to go further down this road alone.   Having renounced the proud "isolationism" of the previous leadership, the new team is not refusing to cooperate with oil companies:   Rosneft, Lukoil, and Surgutneftegaz.   With Miller's arrival, the corporation's policy has become more flexible and pragmatic and legally disputed points are not preventing the development of cooperation with rivals where they benefit both parties.

The new, very large Zapolyarnoye field, the proven stocks of which come to 1.6 trillion cubic meters of gas, promises to be a serious source of revenue.   Russia's strategic partnership with China is a new opportunity for Gazprom, one that Miller's team does not intend to let slip, having in particular secured the company's participation in building the cross-China Zapad-Vostok gas pipeline from Uyguriya to Shanghai.   The second promising area for large-scale investment is linked to the investments into the gas distribution system and pipelines of the East and the West.

Participating in the privatization of gas pipelines and building new branches will allow revenue to be derived not only from selling gas but also from transporting it.   The work plans include launching Blue Stream, through which 16 billion cubic meters of fuel a year will go to Turkey across the bed of the Black Sea, launching the North European route, which will carry gas to German and on into Europe through Finland and the depths of the Baltic Sea.   The question of participation in the privatization of the Slovak SRR gas transport company in partnership with Ruhrgas and Gaz de France has already been decided.   But it is too early to talk about the state of affairs having been put right while many plans remain at the draft stage.

It is rather in the field of simply establishing order, with which Miller began, that progress in the company can be observed.   At a conference in Urengoy last fall, V. Putin noted that what was needed above all was "a detailed inventory of the entire gas sector, an evaluation of the use of the available resources, and a shedding of ineffective and non-core assets."   The analysis that was conducted unearthed an understatement of the price of exported gas:   In Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary gas was being sold to intermediary firms at prices significantly below world prices.   The president talked about this with dissatisfaction in Urengoy too, lamenting that in some European countries Russian gas is being sold a prices 2.5-3 times above Gazprom's export prices.   Putin's question forced the country to listen:   "Where is the difference in prices, where is the money?"   Naturally, Miller also listened, as a consequence of which the leadership in Gazeksport was replaced.

An improvement of relations with Ukraine has provided an opportunity to halt the illegal siphoning off from the pipeline of fuel meant for sale in Western Europe.   Putting the Yamal-Europe pipeline's second line into operation, which Poland to all appearances agrees to, could solve this problem for good.

People predicted that Miller would fall between the separated stools on which he was allegedly trying to sit.   On one hand, he needed to change the old team, while on the other, he needed to regain the assets but it was the old managers who knew best how to do that.   But Miller did not fall anywhere -- he found arguments to which the old team could not object.   This toughness, however, is justified by the fact that it yielded fruit, which means it was entirely appropriate in the situation.   Among the fruits is the beginning of reestablishing control over Sibur, Purgaz, and Zapsibgazprom.

While acting "quietly and toughly" in this direction, Miller has shown himself to be a peacemaker with Gazprom's longstanding and powerful opponent.   In fact, establishing working relationships with commercial partners also means economies.   Realizing the fruitlessness for both sides of the head-on conflicts between the gas companies and electricity companies, Millar and Chubays have renounced the "vanity conflict" between Gazprom and YeES Rossi RAO [Unified Energy System of Russia Russian Joint-Stock Company] that had become chronic like a corn.   They agreed that in response to a one-billion-cubic-meter increase in gas supplies to electricity generating enterprises in the second quarter of 2002, YeES Rossii will help Gazprom enterprises access the wholesale electricity market.

This is the state of affairs in Gazprom.   It is not yet one of rejuvenation but a breakthrough has already been made.   A new working style has emerged, one geared toward removing unnecessary conflicts and clearing obstructions in succession.   Converting the president's political support into economic improvements, the tangible indicator of which has become the growth in the credit rating is Miller's clear contribution.   Knowing the new Gazprom management's style, we can predict that we will not hear any bombastic reports during the company's restructuring.

Meanwhile, over the next year, Miller will have to solve problems that will not prove simpler than those up to now.   He will have to shift from reforming the top ranks to reforming the entire vertical management axis and from regaining assets to working with them effectively.   In addition to this, Miller will still have to strike a balance between a strategic alliance with the state and market demands.   These are highly complex problems but it would be wrong to categorically state that they are impracticable.

[Description of Source: Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta in Russian -- Government daily newspaper.]



Russia: Murder of Gazprom Insurance Executive Petukhov Arouses Speculation

CEP20020521000441 Moscow Vedomosti (Internet Version-WWW) in Russian 22 May 02

[Article by Pavel Miledin: "A Dangerous Job"]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    General Director Andrey Petukhov of the SOGAZ Insurance Company, who moved from Rosgosstrakh to his new office just a month ago, was killed at his dacha yesterday.   This was an scandalous incident for the insurance market.   Petukhov's last initiative was the merger of SOGAZ and Gazprommedstrakh.

    In contrast to the aluminum and oil industries, the insurance market has always been relatively peaceful:   It has not experienced any gang wars or raids by the special forces.   That is why yesterday's news that General Director Andrey Petukhov of the SOGAZ Company had been killed at his dacha near Naro-Fominskiy was so surprising.   His driver, Marat Statretdinov, was also killed.

    The desk officer on duty at the Naro-Fominskiy Police Department gave Vedomosti the usual information in cases of this kind:   "The call reporting the crime was recorded yesterday at 11:17 in the morning.   The caller did not identify himself, and an investigation is under way."   According to Interfaks reports, investigators believe this was a contract murder because no money or personal items were taken.

    Andrey Petukhov was appointed general director of Gazprom's insurance company, SOGAZ, at the beginning of April this year.   Before that he was the financial director of the Rosgosstrakh Company and left after a change of management.   According to Vedomosti's sources, he had spent the last month familiarizing himself with his new job and building a new team.

    "I am shocked.   He was a young man (he was 32) with two children, and he was a professional manager....   I do not remember any other murders of hired managers.   He had nothing to give them but his life," said former Rosgosstrakh General Director Aleksey Golovkov, who had worked with Petukhov for about two years.

    "This is terrible," said Andrey Zernov, the president of the Energogarant Company, which is affiliated, as SOGAZ is, with the Associated Insurers of the Fuel and Energy Complex.   He said that the only other murder of this kind occurred in 1994, when Energogarant executive Yevgeniy Minazbekov was killed.   "This shook the market severely, but it was in 1994," Zernov remarked.

    The insurers Vedomosti contacted believe Andrey Petukhov's death had something to do with his new job.   The new Gazprom administrators hired Petukhov as the director of SOGAZ to restore order in the company's affairs, "which had become chaotic," an insurer close to the SOGAZ management explained.   A source at Gazprom told Vedomosti that Petukhov was planning a serious reform of the gas monopoly's insurance business.   To this end, a SOGAZ stockholders meeting decided to increase the company's capital stock with a new stock issue on his recommendations in April.   The securities were supposed to be exchanged for stock in Gazprommedstrakh, another of the gas monopoly's insurance subsidiaries, wholly owned by Gazprom.   The source explained that the merger of the two companies was supposed to stop their senseless competition.   "Petukhov wanted to develop the insurance business in earnest, instead of fooling around with nonsense like insurance against falling meteorites," the source told Vedomosti.   Vladimir Denga, the company's former general director, was expected to help Petukhov make all of the arrangements.   He was appointed the new executive's adviser.

    Off the record, the shocked insurers suggested that Petukhov, in his capacity as a professional manager and financial analyst, might have discovered some legally questionable operations when he started looking into the company's affairs.   Golovkov agreed:   "He dug too deep and discovered something he was not supposed to find."   Vedomosti's source in Gazprom did not deny that some SOGAZ transactions might have presupposed their future nullification.

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


Russia: Gazprom announces proven gas reserves worth $40 billion

CEP20020521000278 Moscow ITAR-TASS in Russian 1032 GMT 21 May 02

[FBIS Translated Text]

  Moscow, 21 May: Deputy chairman of Gazprom board Vitaliy Savelyev said that as of today the company's proved gas reserves amount to 18,900bn cubic metres of gas with an estimated value of 40bn dollars, Prime-TASS [news agency] reports.
  Savelyev said that Gazprom owns about 60 per cent of the world's proved gas reserves. According to Savelyev, Gazprom's total estimated reserves stand at 28,000bn cubic metres of gas.

[Description of Source: Moscow ITAR-TASS in English -- main government information agency]


Russia: Gazprom expects long-term transit agreement to be signed with Ukraine

CEP20020514000319 Moscow Interfax in English 1642 GMT 14 May 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

  MOSCOW. May 14 (Interfax) - Russian gas giant Gazprom expects that a long-term agreement with Ukraine on the transit of Russian gas will be signed in June, Yuri Komarov, deputy chairman of the company's board of governors, told the press in Moscow on Tuesday.
  The agreement provides for the transit of 106 billion to 107 billion cubic meters of gas a year across Ukraine and the use of the country's underground storage spaces, he said.
  Russia will pay for the transit in cash and in kind with gas.
  Since the signing of an intergovernmental agreement between Moscow and Kyiv a year ago, no unauthorized siphoning of gas has occurred in Ukraine, Komarov said.
  Gazprom has not, however, given up the idea of building a gas pipeline circumventing Ukraine, Komarov said. "We are still considering all the possibilities and options," he 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: Gazprom Operates at Odds with State Economic Policy

CEP20020416000449 Moscow Vedomosti in Russian 17 Apr 02

[Article by Vladimir Fedorin: "The Number of the Week--$190 Million. Schizophrenia" -- taken from html version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    While Kremlin officials are performing their sorcery on the magic words that Vladimir Putin will use to wake up the nation and the government on 18 April, the main subject of the Russian economy is sending out much more effective signals to the other "economic subjects."   Unlike Putin's speech last year, the messages of Gazprom are absolutely unambiguous and have an immediate impact.

    Gazprom devoted its last message to business partners to the timely subject of "Banks and Credit to the Real Sector."   The day before yesterday Mikhail Fomenko, who was sent by Gazprom to supervise the SIBUR bankruptcy, held the first meeting of creditors.   The bankers, who did all they could to give credit to the "Russian BASF," were not admitted to the meeting.   The borrower, they were told, did not acknowledge their claims.   And that means that it is as if the loans of $190 million, which were given to SIBUR by MDM Bank, Alfa-Bank, DIB, and Raiffeisenbank, never existed.   (Or they did exist, but the borrower will acknowledge them when it is convenient for Gazprom.)   Formally speaking, Fomenko is within his rights.   The majority of Russian anti-crisis managers who are put into major bankruptcies earn their living by carrying out the orders of the creditors who put them in the job.   The financiers from Alfa and MDM know this very well.   And now just try to clean up your own mess, the observer will say, valuing his impartiality.

    However, the cynicism that pervades our business community should not overshadow the obvious.   The Gazprom managers too frequently operate on the principle, "If it is not permitted but you want to very much, you can do it."   And this creates enormous problems for the economic authorities, who are forced to close their eyes to the regular escapades of the quasiministry of gas industry.   The departments who answer for the overall economic climate are again, as in the first half of the 1990s, losing out to the sector chiefs.

    The actions of a corporation under state control are increasingly at odds with the goals of the economic policy that appears to be declared by that same state.   Kudrin argues that the government will not borrow from the Central Bank?   But Gazprom readily does this for it.   The new St. Petersburg team is not able to legally correct the "criminal" errors of past gas industry generals?   But the schemers from SIBUR can be put behind bars, and all hail to legal reform!   Kasyanov assures entrepreneurs that the government will amend the ugly bankruptcy law?   But after all, he still has not done it, and that means that the law, which is full of holes, can be used one last time in the state interest.

    Business is reacting appropriately to the bifurcation of the state personality.   In January, for the first time in the last three years, the banks reduced their credit portfolio.   The sensible banker is not going to extend credit to the real sector when the specter of universal equality is again stalking across Russia.   The specter of an economy in which all are equal before Gazprom.


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


Russia's Gazprom prepared to accept gas from independent producers

CEP20020415000129 Moscow Interfax in English 1103 GMT 15 Apr 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

 MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) - Gazprom is ready to accept from 50 billion cubic meters to 60 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum into its transport system from independent producers, Boris Posyagin, director of Gazprom central distribution department, said Monday during a meeting with members of the Federation Council.
  He said that this year Gazprom companies will produce an estimated 515 bcm - 520 bcm of gas and that the capacity of the company's pipelines amounts to 600 bcm.
  According to Gazprom forecasts, in 2010-2020 independent producers will produce 150 bcm - 170 bcm of gas per annum.
  "We are ready to accept gas into our system with pleasure," he said, adding that at the moment 22 independent companies supply gas into the Gazprom transportation system.
  Posyagin also stressed that last Saturday Gazprom stopped siphoning gas from underground reservoirs to be supplied to consumers, due to the end of the winter heating season.
  However, he noted that in the past days there was a surge in gas consumption. In connection with this Gazprom plans to limit supplies to consumers, as it is necessary to start pumping gas into underground reservoirs, Posyagin explained.
  He also said that in October this year the first gas should be transported through the Blue Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey.

[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]


Moscow Daily: Importance of Gazprom Slovak Acquisition 'Hard to Exaggerate'

CEP20020315000103 Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta in Russian 15 Mar 02 P 5

[Report by Yekaterina Vasilchenko: "Gas 'Attack' on West"]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Russia's Gazprom concern has strengthened its positions in Europe with one stroke of the pen.

   It was announced in the Slovak capital Bratislava yesterday [14 March] that the Russian concern has acquired 49 percent of the Slovak gas company.  Gazprom's partners in this tender were a German and a French company.  The consortium offered the Slovak Government around $2.7 billion for the stake.

   Rossiyskaya Gazeta was told by informed sources at Gazprom that a contract had been concluded for the transportation of Russian gas until 2008.  For their part, the German and French partners are major purchasers of Russian gas and, consequently, for them participation in the project is a guarantee of uninterrupted supplies.

   The importance for Russia of the success of this "gas attack" on Slovakia is hard to exaggerate.  Almost a year ago Mikhail Kasyanov, during a visit to Poland, had agreed to build the so-called "Peremychka" gas pipeline across the country's territory, making it possible to dispatch gas for export while bypassing Ukrainian territory, which had recently become an unreliable route.  It is proposed to send up to 60 billion cubic meters of gas a year through "Peremychka," which will run via Slovakia -- so in the very near future that country could become the leading route for Russian gas exports.

[Description of Source: Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta in Russian -- Government daily newspaper.]


'Political Subtext' Suggested in Tax Police Audit of Gazprom Operations

CEP20020313000199 Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Russian 13 Mar 02 P 3

[Report by Varvara Aglamishyan: “Another Blow Against Gazprom. Tax Police Seeking to Increase Capital’s Budget Revenue”]

[FBIS Translated Text]
The tax officials are threatening to launch criminal proceedings against Gazprom.  Viktor Vasilyev, chief of the Federal Tax Police Service for Moscow, announced the claims against the gas monopoly yesterday.  According to him, the Federal Tax Police Service's administration for the capital city plans to make the final decision on whether or not to institute criminal proceedings against the gas concern before the end of March.

   Staffers of the capital's No. 40 tax inspectorate and the Moscow tax police completed their audit of Gazprom in February this year.  As a result, Vasilyev claims, they succeeded in exposing infringements committed by the gas monopoly.  Furthermore the extent of the damage inflicted on the state, in his words, goes beyond the limits of a few tens of billions of rubles.  A follow-up investigation is being carried out at the moment on the basis of the certificate of audit.  Among the infringements committed by Gazprom the leader of the capital's tax police named the unjustified reduction of earnings from the sale of gas, the sale of gas at below-market prices, and also the fact that the cost price of gas supplied to compressor stations was not included in the tax base.

   Gazprom itself meanwhile has officially rejected the statement by the leader of the capital's tax police.  The company has announced that Gazprom's operations for 1999, 2000, and the first half of 2001 have indeed been subject to an audit.  But as Vitaliy Savelyev, deputy chairman of the company's board, has stressed, "publicizing the results of an unfinished audit is not only not ethical but can also cause significant harm to Gazprom's business reputation in both the domestic and foreign capital markets."  Furthermore the stock market has immediately confirmed the correctness of his words:  The gas monopoly's share price has fallen by 3 percent.

   In the opinion of analysts who have been questioned, the Federal Tax Police Service's actions could have a quite definite political subtext because the documents that had been audited have a bearing on the previous Gazprom leadership's activity.  In the opinion of Dmitriy Druzhinin, an analyst with the Prospekt Investment Company, however, the capital tax police's "attack" on Gazprom has another subtext too.  Gazprom is registered in Moscow and pays its taxes here.  Last year the 35 percent profit tax was shared in the following way between the center and the region where the company "resides":  11 percent went to the federal budget, 24 percent went to the budget of the Federation component.  This year the rules have changed.  Out of the 24 percent profit tax the regions will now get 16.5 percent and the federal budget 7.5 percent.  Thus the actions of the capital's tax police are entirely logical too.  If you bear in mind that the gas that Gazprom transfers to another corporate body, albeit its own "subsidiary," has to be taxed the profit tax will increase.  And therefore payments to the Moscow budget will rise too.

   Meanwhile it emerged yesterday that Gazprom has completed the work of raising an unsecured loan to the tune of $150 million.  The loan was organized via the branch of Deutsche Bank in London.  Furthermore this loan was received at very preferential rates, as sources within Gazprom itself note.  In the context of these borrowings it may be presumed that the problems with the Federal Tax Police Service will not improve Gazprom's credit rating.  And as a result the company will be forced to think seriously about the recent statements by Governor Neyelov, who urged companies working on the territory of the Yamalo-Nenetsk Okrug to register there.
[Description of Source: Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Russian -- Daily Moscow newspaper aimed at an elite audience and controlled by Boris Berezovskiy.]



Russia: Gas giant Gazprom facing possible prosecution for massive tax evasion

CEP20020312000075 Moscow ITAR-TASS in Russian 0956 GMT 12 Mar 02

[FBIS Translated Text]

  Text of report by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS
  Moscow, 12 March, ITAR-TASS correspondent Svetlana Alikina: The tax police has found evidence of Gazprom's failure to pay taxes, and the question of instigating criminal proceedings against this joint-stock company will be decided before the end of March. Journalists heard an announcement to this effect today from Viktor Vasilyev, head of the Moscow directorate of the Federal Tax Police Service.
  The irregularities discovered in the course of a scheduled audit also include unjustified underreporting of profits from the sale of gas, the exclusion from the tax base of the cost of gas left for compressor stations' own needs, and the sale of natural gas below the market price. "This has cost the state several billion roubles," Viktor Vasilyev said. Pre-investigation procedures are currently being followed. Only after their completion will a decision be taken on whether to institute criminal proceedings.

[Description of Source: Moscow ITAR-TASS in English -- main government information agency]


Russian Independent Gas Producers To Pay 20 Percent More For Access To Gazprom Pipeline

CEP20020221000207 Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Russian 21 Feb 02 P3

[Article by Varvara Aglamishyan: "Kutovoy Separates Pipeline From Gas; Re-Sellers To Pay For Transport of Blue Fuel"--taken from html version of source provided by ISP.]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    Yesterday, the Federal Energy Commission adopted what may truly be called a "Solomon's decision."   The cost of pumping gas through the Gazprom pipeline system would be increased for companies which are not associated with the monopoly.   However, it is not the independent producers who will have to pay, but the wholesale buyers of gas.   Oil producers and Gazprom representatives were very unhappy about such a decision of the FEC [Federal Energy Commission].

    The tariff on gas transport services for independent producers will be increased by 20 percent as of 1 March 2002, and will comprise 12 rubles (R) for transport of 1,000 cubic meters of the raw material for a distance of 1,000 kilometers.   The discussion centers around pumping the raw material within the country, and its delivery to Belarus.   The export tariff will remain the same--$0.8.   At the same time, the head of the Energy Commission, Georgiy Kutovoy, announced an innovation which was revolutionary in its essence: The transport component should not be included in the price charged by independent gas suppliers.   In other words, wholesale buyers of the blue fuel will have to pay double for gas obtained from independent producers.   According to Georgiy Kutovoy, the money for transport must go directly to Gazprom, and it will be the task of the oil producers and other producers of gas to find a buyer who would be willing to pay their prices, and to deliver the fuel to the main pipeline.

    Today, independent producers provide approximately 12 percent of the total volume of gas in Russia.   Casing-head gas from oil drilling alone accounts for around 30 billion cubic meters annually.   Part is burned off in the torches, part is pumped back into the ground, and part is refined and either pumped into the Unified Gas System of Russia or used by the oil producers themselves for electrical power generation.   As representatives of the LUKOIL Oil Company announced at the FEC governing board meeting, if transport prices are raised, it will generally become unprofitable for oil producers to supply gas to the Gazprom pipeline.   After all, the cost of its production for oil producers comprises R600-R700 per 1,000 cubic meters, while the average wholesale price is at the level of R415.   Under the tariffs which are in effect at the present time, independent producers cannot supply gas for a distance exceeding 200-250 km--they simply cannot find a buyer.   And representatives of Rosneft stated that it would be more logical to create economic incentives, so that Gazprom would buy this gas from oil producers at a price which would ensure at least some profitability.   However, Gazprom believes that it is primarily necessary to increase the tariffs on the gas itself.   And today, this is the only type of fuel which is affordable in price for all consumers.   The decision of the FEC not to increase prices on the export transport of gas evoked particular dissatisfaction of monopolists.   However, Georgiy Kutovoy believes that Gazprom has nothing to worry about: "With their volumes and prices, the oil producers will not reach Europe."   Nevertheless, the FEC intends to return to the methodology of computing gas tariffs in May of this year.

    Investment company representatives polled by Nezavisimaya Gazeta were rather favorably inclined toward the FEC decision.   As the chief analyst for IK [Investment Company] Prospekt, Dmitriy Druzhinin, noted, "now the transport component will become more transparent, and there will be significantly fewer opportunities for tampering with gas prices."   In his words, the FEC decision is also positive from the standpoint of consumers.   After all, now they will know how much transport costs, and will themselves be able to choose their suppliers.

    We will also note that, for many years now, the regional gas distribution organizations have been the weakest link in the Russian system of gas provision.   The "mini-monopolists," like black holes, suck up the money which ultimate consumers pay for gas, but often go no farther than this.   In many regions, the networks of the gas distribution enterprises are in a sad state, but repair is not performed, citing "poverty" as the reason.   Moreover, Gazprom's attempts to "absorb" the oblast gas provision organizations or to create joint enterprises with the regional authorities have not significantly improved this situation.

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


Scandal Over Capital Diversion From Gazprom Subsidiaries Viewed

CEP20020221000045 Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta in Russian 19 Feb 02 P 10

[Article by Leonid Mikhaylov: "The Daughters Robbed Their Mother Before She Even Knew It" -- taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Even six months ago, nobody could suppose that Vyakhirev's managers from Gazprom would intentionally or unintentionally make so many blunders in their work that this would even attract attention on the part of investigators.   All of their failures have been laid bare now by a scandal that broke out over Gazprom's subsidiaries: OAO [open joint-stock company] Zapsibgazprom and AK [joint-company] Sibur.

The leadership change at the Russian gas monopolist Gazprom proved to be a major test for the present team of its managers led by A. Miller.   And it is not the point that the gas giant is not so simple to manage.   It turned out that one should also have a good knowledge of the ownership structure of Russia's largest company.   So, it is a review of assets that the new managers did first thing after they came in.   Immediately, they encountered some facts that made them call for investigators.   But let me start at the beginning.  

In the past, the companies Zapsibgazprom and Sibur were formed with active participation of the former OAO Gazprom management.   Notably, transferring assets and injecting hefty funds into the purchased holding companies were widely used practices at that time.   Gazprom, too, displayed its generosity.   Specifically, OAO Zapsibgazprom, which laid gas mains to rural areas not only in Tyumen Oblast but also in other Russian regions, received from Gazprom the rights (license) to develop the South-Russian gas deposit, whose reserves are estimated at 810 billion cubic meters of gas and which became the principal gas asset of this company.   In 1998, Zapsib, as was reported in the press, received from Gazprom a subsidy of $450 million.

Sibur, a major gas processor, was also blessed.   A sizeable portion of Gazprom capital flowed into this company as well.   At that time, to all appearances, the previous management of the gas monopolist thought more about expanding its empire.   It has turned out now that the assets presented to the subsidiary companies were diverted to third companies.   Paradoxically, that was possible largely thanks to the existing gaps in the law on natural resources, which even allow for legally taking over a license from a company.   The present law governs only the registration of a license agreement:   A company may transfer its license only to a structure in which it holds a controlling stake.   Yet, the law does not address subsequent operations with the license.  

In short, as the readers have already guessed, as a result of elaborate schemes, the license for the South-Russian gas deposit, which was transferred earlier to Zapsibgazprom, and the Sibur assets went into the hands of structures that have very little to do with Gazprom.   How did it happen?

The heads of Zapsibgazprom and Sibur, V. Nikiforov and Ya. Goldovskiy, respectively, diverted the assets conveyed to them from Gazprom to third companies -- the "granddaughters" of Gazprom, which were still under control back then.   In other words, at that time Gazprom still retained its control over the assets that it transferred.   Later, however, as a result of an additional emission of shares by the "granddaughter" companies, Gazprom's control over them was virtually reduced to zero.

The point is that an additional issue of shares automatically reduces the proportion of the "mother" company in the new amount of securities.   To maintain this proportion, the latter should buy more shares, or invest more capital in the "daughter" structure.   Following an additional emission of shares conducted by Zapsibgazprom in August of 2000, Gazprom wold have to fork up only 51.3 million rubles [R] for the shares to retain its controlling stake.   It was small change for Gazprom.   But the old managers... did not find this amount of money.   As a result, Gazprom's share in Zapsibgazprom's authorized capital dropped, as newspapers reported, from 51 percent to 33.9 percent.

Then, it was time to let the "granddaughters" live on their own.   In February of 1999, as some mass media reported, Zapsib reduced to 51 percent its own share (by deciding not to buy additional shares) in its daughter company Severneftegazprom (Gazprom's "granddaughter"), to which, by the way, the license to develop the South-Russian gas deposit was handed over.   Already in May of 2001, the latter conducted a new emission, as a result of which Zapsib's stake fell to 11 percent.   The "granddaughter" became out of reach for Gazprom, which lost also the license.  

An additional stock issue was conducted also by Sibur.   The company, as was reported in the press, issued more than 6 trillion of ordinary shares, which could have cut Gazprom's stake in this company by one-third.   Notably, Sibur planned to conduct two more such issues, as a result of which Gazprom's stake would have fallen to 3-5 percent.   To keep its control over that company, Gazprom had to fork up already several billion rubles.   Yet, also this time the gas monopolist decided not to make such dubious investment and almost lost practically everything that was once a part of the former USSR Ministry of Petrochemical Industry.   Thus, the property of OAO Zapsibgazprom and AK Sibur went to OAO Severneftegazprom and OAO Sibur-Tyumen, respectively.

Meanwhile, Gazprom was well capable of nipping this entire scheme with its shares in the bud, particularly that Gazprom management Board Deputy Chairmen V. Sheremet and A. Pushkin were members of the Sibur Board of Directors.   In 2000, Sheremet even officially headed the board of directors of that company.   Did they not notice that its main assets were diverted into the enterprises that were not controlled by Gazprom?   This despite the fact that according to a declaration by B. Fedorov, a member of OAO's board of directors, Gazprom invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the petrochemical company and that without Gazprom's participation Sibur would have negative capital.   Did they not notice that Sibur President Ya. Goldovskiy and Vice President Ye. Koshits, as well as Zapsibgazprom Chief V. Nikiforov were, as it were, pulling the blanket to their side?   It is hard to believe this, you should agree.   It is equally hard now to reproach the General Prosecutor's Office for arresting on 8 January 2002 V. Sheremet, Ya. Goldovskiy, and Ye. Koshits, although some are making such attempts.   Zapsibgazprom General Director was dismissed, while N. Belousov, the first deputy to the former Tyumen Oblast governor, was appointed acting general director.   At least, there is hope that the assets diverted from Gazprom will be returned to it.  

This is specifically the problem with which the team of A. Miller is preoccupied with today.   First, the team should establish what exactly assets of Gazprom's subsidiary companies were diverted and whether they can be recovered.   Second, if they can actually be recovered, how can this be done?

At this point, there are two methods.   The first one is that a criminal embezzlement case can be instigated against a subsidiary company's leader.   This method would allow for finding out, with the help of relevant bodies, what happened to the diverted property and returning it to its legitimate owners.   But will the people detained as part of this criminal case want to cooperage with the investigators?   Do they still control the "evaporated" property?   Or, maybe this control has already been seized by the structures on which the formal owner has no power?

The second method is to initiate bankruptcy proceedings.   This method allows for contesting all the deals transacted by the bankrupt company over the past year.

And it is not an accident that specifically the bankruptcy procedure was applied right away to OAO Zapsibgazprom -- the company's assets, particularly the South-Russian gas deposit, were diverted in the past year and this circumstance eliminates the need to open a criminal case.

As for Sibur, a criminal case was immediately instigated against its management -- apparently in the hopes that the assets would be recovered this way.   For now, however, those hopes are illusory, even though the control over Sibur has been reinstated at least on paper:   Gazprom has annulled all the deals made as part of the "Goldovskiy emission" last May.   In any case, Gazprom management, as Gazprom Management Board Deputy Chairman A. Ryazanov declared to journalists recently, was forced to initiate bankruptcy of Sibur, whose total debt to the gas company has already reached R29 billion.   Ryazanov also said that the issue of Sibur bankruptcy proceedings will be examined in the city of Salekhard on 11 March.  

[Description of Source: Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta in Russian -- Government daily newspaper.]


Russia: Gazprom share values fall as doubts over reform take hold

CEP20020213000265 Moscow Interfax in English 1143 GMT 13 Feb 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

  Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax
  Moscow, 13 February: Gazprom shares became cheaper by 1.5 per cent on the Moscow Stock Exchange and by 1.2 per cent on the St Petersburg Stock Exchange as of 1300 [Moscow time] on Wednesday [13 February], which reflected the Russian market's response to a 5.5-per-cent slump of ADRs on these shares in the West.
  This sharp ADR fall was the reaction of Western trading floors to reports by Western media, which quoted Russian Deputy Economy Minister Andrey Sharonov as saying that no steps will be taken in the near future to restructure Gazprom, which, in the view of traders, is in fact a half-truth.
  At the same time, Sharonov said during parliamentary hearings on the concept of the development of the gas market in Russia at the beginning of this week that the fundamental position of the Russian government is "to finalize the concept first and only then to make specific proposals on the possibility and necessity of the gas sector's restructuring".
  "In this connection, the separation of a gas transportation company from the Gazprom structure is a subject about which it is too early to say yes or no," Sharonov said.
  As a result, the Russian stock market's reaction to the latest news on Gazprom restructuring was more restrained as compared to the Western trading floors, where investors interpreted the Russian official's statement as a message on slowing down restructuring and postponing it indefinitely.

[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: Gas giant Gazprom anticipating big downturn in profits

CEP20020211000077 Moscow Interfax in English 0900 GMT 11 Feb 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

  Russian gas giant anticipating big downturn in profits
  Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax
  Moscow, 8 February: Gazprom is forecasting profit in 2002 of R9bn, company deputy CEO Aleksandr Ryazanov said during parliamentary hearings on a concept to develop the Russian gas market on Monday [11 February].
  He did not state exactly what profit was in question. Gazprom expects net profit of R79bn for 2001. The company's net profit increased almost 100 per cent from R32.603bn in 1999 to R60.748bn in 2000.
  According to Ryazanov, the company's investment programme this year should amount to R140bn. The deputy CEO noted that the current situation with domestic gas prices, even with an increase from 15 February, does not ensure company profitability.
  "At the current gas price, the energy security of Russia falls into question," he announced.
  He said that 60 per cent of all company investment is aimed at restoring fixed assets and less than 40 per cent - on maintaining the gas distribution network, with what is left over being spent on geological exploration work.

[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]


Gazprom Cadre Purge Gaining Momentum

CEP20020121000244 Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Russian 21 Jan 02 P3

[Article by Polina Kanevskaya: "Beating of Vyakhirev's Cadres Continues; Some Already Jailed, Others Still Only Losing Posts"--taken from html version of source provided by ISP.]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    The cadre purge in Gazprom is gaining momentum.   And now, one more representative of the "old" team of managers of the gas monopoly, Valentin Nikishin, has been "sent off to demotion."   Now, instead of Mezhregiongaz, he will head up the Mostransgaz company.   For many years, this structure has been continuously managed by the oldest member of the Vyakhirev-Chernomyrdin team, Aleksandr Kozachenko.   Judging by all, he simply dropped out of the game in the new Gazprom cadre re-shuffling.   Now, Mezhregiongaz will be headed by Nikolay Gornovskiy, a graduate of the Mining Institute who, by "accidental" coincidence, is also from Leningrad.   We will note that, at one time, Valentin Nikishin had been intended for the position of the ex-head of Gazprom, Rem Vyakhirev.   However, these hopes were not meant to be.   Just as the hopes for a quick release from custody of the two managers of the Gazprom "subsidiary"--the SIBUR Petrochemical Company--were also not meant to be.   One might say that Nikishin has been lucky for now.   After all, methods of the Prosecutor's pressure on unsuitable managers are more traumatic than a demotion.

    The General Prosecutor's Office of Russia has indeed filed charges of abuse of official duties against the president of that structure [SIBUR], Yakov Goldovskiy, and Vice-President Yevgeniy Koshits.   The charges were filed in accordance with Article 201, Part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of official duties by a person fulfilling managerial functions in a commercial or other organizations).   The measure of suppression employed against the accused remains the same: They are being held in custody.

    We may recall that the criminal case was filed on 7 January.   The grounds were Gazprom's suspicions about the withdrawal of assets of the SIBUR Company for an overall sum of R2.6 billion.   The next day, the General Prosecutor's Office detained three persons: Goldovskiy, Koshits, and SIBUR Chairman of the Board of Directors and First Deputy Chairman of the Gazprom Governing Board Vyacheslav Sheremet.   Then again, the latter was released from custody on 11 January under written warrant in which he promised not to leave.   "Withdrawal of assets" of SIBUR is understood as the transfer of the main gas processing enterprises in West Siberia to ownership of the SIBUR-Tyumen Company, which was in no way associated with the Gazprom "subsidiary," as well as the sale of these GPZ [gas processing enterprises] without Gazprom's knowledge.   On the eve of the New Year, a deal was concluded on sale of the Surgut Gas Processing Plant to Surgutneftegaz, and LUKOIL and the Tyumen Oil Company aspire to acquisition of the Lokosovskiy and Nizhnevartovskiy GPZ.   Aside from this, according to certain data, at the beginning of the year the redemption of the third emission of SIBUR shares was undertaken, but was halted by the General Prosecutor's Office in time.   This emission would have eroded Gazprom's share in the petrochemical company.

    At the present time, SIBUR has considerable indebtedness to Gazprom--which, according to the decision of the company's board of directors, must be secured by liquid assets.   The overall debt, including guarantees of the gas monopoly on credits, exceeds R20 billion, while the direct indebtedness is R13.7 billion.   The gas monopoly had adopted the strategic decision to retain control over SIBUR already at the end of last year.   However, a study of the petrochemical chain showed that the "subsidiary" is in fact an empty shell.   Real control over the assets turned out to be under the personal control of the head of SIBUR, Yakov Goldovskiy.   At the beginning of December, he promised that outside structures, which own SIBUR's enterprises, would be able to guarantee Gazprom return of its property.   Goldovskiy will have to fulfill this promise while in custody.

    According to the deputy chairman of the board of the gas monopoly, Aleksandr Ryazanov, at the present moment a moratorium has been imposed on the sale of SIBUR's gas processing plants.   After filing of the criminal case, the Gazprom leadership sent official letters to the state agencies of the regions, asking that registration of deals with property and securities of SIBUR's subsidiary enterprises be suspended.

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

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