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    WHOLESALE ELECTRICITY GENERATING COMPANIES TO BECOME BACKBONE OF RUSSIA'S ELECTRICITY MARKET

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    MOSCOW, April 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Unified Energy Systems (UES) is preparing tenders to sell stakes in its wholesale electric power generating companies at the end of this year or early next year, Yuri Udaltsov, a UES boardmember, said at a press conference at RIA Novosti on Friday.

    According to Mr. Udaltsov, molding wholesale electric power generating companies into holding corporations will be a key priority for UES this year. These should become "powerful operators in the market, which will form the backbone of the electricity market," he said.

    He also said that the Government's instructions on the tenders would be submitted to UES around April 20, just before the next UES board session on April 23.

    Under this document, UES shares and monetary assets will both be means of payment at the tenders, Mr. Udaltsov said. At the upcoming session, the board will make a general decision as to how the tenders will be conducted; the particulars will be considered later on, he said.

    At today's press conference, the UES official also spoke about territorial electric power generating companies. The configuration of these companies will be determined by the UES board at an upcoming session.

    Territorial electricity generating companies will take more time to create than wholesale electric power generating companies. However, the UES hopes to resolve some of the related issues by the summer, Mr. Udaltsov said.

    The UES will be pushing ahead with its proposal as to the layout of territorial electric power generating companies, he said. The electricity giant proposes uniting regional electric stations into sixteen territorial companies.

    The proposal is now being discussed in the Government, Mr. Udaltsov reported. Cabinet members want to make sure that the companies being created will not be too large and will not eventually turn into monopolies.

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