WHO WILL CONTROL ZARUBEZHNEFT?

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MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom board chairman Alexei Miller said October 19 that the state would not obtain 10.7% of Gazprom's shares by acquiring Rosneft and that it would have to buy another share package, such as the Zarubezhneft foreign-trade association. Mr. Miller cited a preliminary Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW) report evaluating Rosneft. According to Kommersant, Neither DrKW, nor anybody else have asked the company for all the required corporate-evaluation documents, Rosneft people say.

Zarubezhneft started to go public this past February in line with a presidential decree and this process is continuing. It was to have been privatized at a later date. However, the state is highly unlikely to complete the corporatization process and then evaluate the value of its shares by the end of the year.

This means the Gazprom-Rosneft merger, which is due to be completed this year, will not liberalize the Gazprom-shares market because of the need to receive additional assets in the form of Zarubezhneft. Meanwhile Gazprom's foreign investors, who have to buy Gazprom securities through Russian-registered investment companies, are looking forward to this liberalization. Additional Zarubezhneft assets will not help the liberalization process, the paper notes.

Should Gazprom establish control over Rosneft, Zarubezhneft and Yuganskneftegaz, Gazpromneft would become a major Russian oil company, rivaling LUKoil (projected 2004 oil-production targets, 87 million tons) and surging ahead of Surgutneftegaz with 63 million tons of oil. In the meantime Yuganskneftegaz could be purchased by one of Gazprom's partners, such as Germany's E. ON. Ruhrgas, before being exchanged for Gazprom fuel and energy assets.

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