Metropol to manage Gazprom's subsidiary

Tourism

Gazprom has handed a controlling stake in its debt-laden subsidiary Zapsibgazprom to the Metropol investment firm, the gas giant said Wednesday.

The Russian gas monopolist says the transfer is aimed to put the company with 700 million ruble ($30 million) debt back on track. Analysts believe that Gazprom is preparing Zapsibgazprom for sale. 79.7% in Zapsibgazprom is to be run by Metropol, Gazprom said in a statement on Wednesday. Gazprom's board passed the decision at a meeting on July 5, citing financial revival for the company as an official reason. The board also elected Vladimir Zavyalov president for Zapsibgazprom while Sergey Badyuk was appointed director general.

A Kommersant source in Gazprom said Badyuk is affiliated with Metropol, which proved decisive in choosing the asset manager. Tyumen-based Zapsibgazprom operates 40 enterprises which supply households and heating firms with gas. Zapsibgazprom is known for its part in a conflict between Gazprom and Itera over control for one of Russia's largest Yuzhno-Russky deposit. Zapsibgazprom held the license for the deposit before 1998.

The conflict left the deposit in the hands of Gazprom which is now developing the project with BASF and E.ON. Zapsibgazprom currently has 700 million rubles in debts. In the quarter ending in March, the company's dead loss was 326 million rubles ($12.8 million) with revenue slightly less than 261 million. Alexander Ryazanov, former deputy chair of Gazprom's board, said last spring Zapsibgazprom may soon change hands. Industry analysts say that Metropol is likely to be looking for a buyer for the company. (kommersant.com)

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