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Russia: Official says uncertainly main factor behind decline in UES capitalization

CEP20020920000139 Moscow Interfax in English 0915 GMT 20 Sep 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

  MOSCOW. Sept 20 (Interfax) - Legislative uncertainly, and uncertainty on the market, are the main factors behind reduction of the capitalization of Russian power monopoly Unified Energy Systems (UES), deputy chairman of the company's executive board Yakov Urinson has said.
  "It scares off investors when deputies either suggest setting charges a year in advance or want to cancel five-year restrictions on the share of foreign investors in UES's charter capital that they imposed themselves," he said in an interview with Gazeta newspaper.
  "The greater the uncertainty, the greater the risks. It was a welcome sign when the government provided a clear and detained explanation of the course of reform, by spelling out all its plans through March 2004. Investors received a clear picture and a full understanding of the process's advantages and disadvantages," Urinson said.
  He said this led to company shares going up. "Then the State Duma started discussions on a package of bills. As the package is increasing, capitalization in falling," he said. Urinson added that "should the reform be suspended, this would inevitably lead to a further decline in the company's capitalization."
  He noted that there is a close link between the electricity market and the gas market. "One thing is when an investor, who builds or purchases a power plant, knows that he can buy gas on the market. The other thing is when an investor has to apply to Gazprom to purchase and deliver it," he stressed.
  Commenting on required investments in the Russian electricity sector, he said 'this will depend on fuel prices."
  "In order to become a competitive player in the electricity production sector, we will require $30-$50 billion in investments in the network, distribution and production throughout 2010," 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: UES chief welcomes Western strategic investors

CEP20020204000015 Moscow RIA-Novosti in Russian 1941 GMT 4 Feb 02

[FBIS Translated Excerpt]

New York, 3 February: Strategic investors may come to the Unified Energy System of Russia [UES] as early as this year, UES chief executive Anatoliy Chubays told correspondents on Sunday [3 February] in New York where he is participating in the World Economic Forum's annual session.
  Investments in securities and financial markets are not what the UES and the whole Russian economy basically need, Chubays said. "We badly need direct strategic investments in our power stations, in power generating facilities," he pointed out.
  People who are discussing energy problems at the forum are company leaders and potential strategic investors, Chubays said.
  [Omitted: more about the importance of the World Economic Forum]
  "So far we cannot boast about achieving a concrete result [in attracting strategic investments], but preparatory work is in progress," he said.
  [Omitted: more about the importance of strategic investments]
  Answering a question by a RIA correspondent about the situation with non-payments [in the Russian energy sector], Chubays stressed that "we are proud of the fact that from 1 January [2002] the company [UES] has no debts to [Russian gas monopoly] Gazprom, nuclear power stations and the public sector, which happened for the first time in many years". "We ceased to be debtors, we put the company's financial affairs in order and have prepared for restructuring," he said. Chubays specially stressed that "it is impossible to attract foreign investors to a company bogged down in debts".

[Description of Source: Moscow RIA-Novosti in Russian -- government information agency, part of the state media holding company]


Russia: Energy Commission approves UES investment program

CEP20020116000414 Moscow Interfax in English 1531 GMT 16 Jan 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

  Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax
  Moscow, 16 January: The board of the Russian Federal Energy Commission on Wednesday approved the 2002 investment programme of Unified Energy Systems (UES) at R16.7bn.
  Commission chairman Georgiy Kutovoy told the board meeting that this year funds for the investment programme will be raised in the old way - from the public. He added that this will possibly be the last time because such fund raising has been strongly criticized.

[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]



Russian Website: Reforms Postponed Until After Elections

CEP20021231000133 Moscow WWW-Text in Russian 30 Dec 02

[Article by Ivan Goryayev: "Results Summed Up"]

[FBIS Translated Text]
Let us begin our New Year review with foreign policy, which is being spoken of as a succession of victories which have finally led Russia into the family of Western peoples.  So where is Zakayev?  How are we to travel from Kaliningrad Oblast to Russia and Europe?  How is NATO living, looking at Smolensk through its binoculars?  How are relations with Iraq, where Washington threatens to try out a "nuclear scenario?"  And with Iran, which certainly does not like the US bases in Central Asia and the hypocritical delays in supplies of equipment for the nuclear power station in Bushehr by the Ministry of Atomic Energy and Energomash?  What will happen if Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-US contender for the post of president, does actually take power in Ukraine?  Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, with his eternal false smile which looks as though it is about to slip, is not answering these questions.

   Domestic policy?  There are "successes" here.  Scarcely had General Gennadiy Troshev been dismissed and the premier replaced to disrupt the balance of forces in Groznyy before there followed the bloody act of terrorism 27 December.  The FSB [Federal Security Service] and the MVD [Internal Affairs Ministry] let the suicide squad terrorists into the government center just as Barayev's terrorists had been allowed into Dubrovka.  What does Putin actually control apart from a dozen meters of Kremlin corridor?

   Yeltsin's Family beat off the "onslaughts" by the lightweight "Chekists" and markedly strengthened its positions.  It took Slavneft.  It forced Putin to assign administrative reform to the government apparatus.  (The president looked rather comical when in retaliation against Mikhail Kasyanov who on the eve of the New Year had presented the forthcoming reorganization of the government on his own terms, he suddenly reassigned this administrative reform to the Federation Council).  It acquired the apparatus and monetary assets of United Russia.  It is compelling the head of state to accept its services as general producer in his forthcoming presidential campaign in order to share with him the programmed March triumph.

   Economic growth?  Yes, it is there.  It was 4 percent in 2002 as against 5 percent in 2001.  Through oil exports and the increase in the number of breweries.  Reforms?  Oh, yes.  Private ownership of land?  Of course.  In those regions where it has been allowed, it exists.  Where it has not been allowed, it does not exist.  Neither contradicts federal law.  Pension reform?  By all means.  The accumulative part of pensions accumulated by the Pension Fund is being invested solely in Finance Ministry state bonds.  But so far there are too few bonds to "absorb" the billions of the Pension Fund.  No matter:  They will issue a few more.  They must.  The government has been tasked with building up the internal debt at the pensioners' expense.

   Banking reform?  That is making headway too.  To the benefit of the oligarchs the government has submitted to the Duma a draft law on insuring bank deposits.  This code cancels out Central Bank guarantees for Sberbank deposits, where 85 percent of citizens' money is concentrated.  But in exchange it extends to all commercial banks the almost worthless ARKO [Agency for the Restructuring of Lending Organizations] guarantees.  Reforms of the natural monopolies?  Only of the Ministry of Railways and then without any tough deadline commitments.  As for Gazprom, they are afraid even to touch it.  Because it has emerged that it is one step away from bankruptcy.  And 70 percent of export profits go to service the company's $14.2 billion debts.

   But then we have RAO YeES [Unified Energy System of Russia Russian Joint-Stock Company], the world's largest energy company whose market capitalization under Anatoliy Chubays exceeds by only 50 percent the capitalization of the MTS [Mobile Telesystems] mobile communications company.  The erratic, convulsive passage of the draft laws on electricity industry reform through the Duma corridors is directly linked to the role played by the "electricity switch" at the future elections.  It depends on whose company, Chubays's or that of the "family" alliance, is first in line for the privatization of generating capacities.  That is the true content of the intrigues over the reorganization of the RAO YeES.

   Finally, tax reform.  Here there is just one achievement -- income tax of 13 percent.  And that is all.  Any talk of tax reform, of lowering the single social tax to 20 percent of the labor remuneration fund, for instance, are utterly unfounded.  Because turning wages money into cash via offshore companies costs just 4-5 percent.  No one will ever be able, with the visible liberalization of the currency regime, to compel major corporations to pay 20 percent instead of 4-5 percent.  Everyone realizes this, but they continue to play at reform.  But they must not lay or else they will not only have to introduce strict financial control over the capital operations of banks and major companies but also to block the practice of transfer price formation in export industries.  And that will mean the death of the class of oligarchs and their satellites.

   All reforms have been postponed until after the elections.  And meanwhile the White House is simply sharing out financial flows with the oligarchs and most influential governors.  Sharing them delicately and thoughtfully to ensure that it does not end up losing out with budget commitments and foreign debt payments and to ensure the oligarchs and governors have the opportunity to help the president win the forthcoming elections.

[Description of Source: Moscow WWW-Text in Russian -- Internet site controlled by Boris Berezovskiy.]



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