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    GAZPROM SHOULD SELL ITS NTV STAKE OFF, ARGUES MEMBER OF GAS GIANT'S BOARD

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    MOSCOW, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom should sell off its stake in the NTV television network, argues Boris Fyodorov, one-time Vice Premier and Finance Minister who now sits on the gas giant's Board of Directors.

    Speaking at a Moscow conference entitled "Liberal Program for the New Century: Global Perspective," Fyodorov suggested that "before staging new revolutions, the company should become more effective." In his opinion, Gazprom could raise its efficiency by selling off stocks not directly related to the gas industry, slashing staff, and cutting on production costs. He mentioned the sale of NTV stakes as of the first steps in this direction.

    Fedorov also called upon Gazprom's top management to create favorable conditions for independent companies to access its pipelines and to form a gas market. "When Gazprom's share on the gas market shrinks from 90 down to 50 percent, then it will be possible to talk about gas pipelines becoming a separate company," he said.

    Touching on some of the outstanding problems facing the Russian gas monopoly, Fedorov pointed out that "dualism between some vague state interests, which no one can articulate clearly enough," and the need for the company to operate in accordance with market principles leads to a huge gap between Gazprom's real and potential capitalization. In his estimation, the company's potential market value is somewhere between $300 and $400 billion, rather than its current $40 billion worth.

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