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    Putin floats Gazprom-Naftogaz merger idea

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    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed on Friday that Russia's energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine's gas monopoly Naftogaz should create a joint holding.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed on Friday that Russia's energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine's gas monopoly Naftogaz should create a joint holding.

    Earlier on Friday, Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom's chief, Sergei Kiriyenko, said Russia and Ukraine may create a joint nuclear venture based on Russia's Atomenergomash and Ukraine's Turboatom companies.

    "We are ready to do the same in the gas sphere. I have suggested merging Gazprom and Naftogaz," Putin said.

    Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the merger idea was "thoroughly thought through" and "reflects the extent to which Russia is ready to integrate with Kiev."

    However, Ukraine's Unian news agency reported that Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Azarov had not discussed the plan during their meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

    It said the idea was an "impromptu move" on Putin's part.

    Peskov said Moscow did not expect an immediate response from Kiev and that Ukraine was yet to study Putin's proposal.

    "We realize of course that it will take some time to weigh this proposal, especially the benefits that it involves," Peskov said.

    Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said his company and Naftogaz were also ready to consider an assets swap and that Russia would be interested in investing in Ukraine's gas transportation system, while Ukraine wants access to Russian energy resources.

    In another sign of growing economic cooperation with Ukraine, Putin said Russia's VTB bank was ready to grant Ukraine a loan of up to $500 million, which could be used to finance its budget spending.

    He suggested that Ukraine was beginning to see political stabilization, which should be followed by economic stabilization.

    Putin and Azarov discussed cooperation in more than 10 spheres, including oil, gas, nuclear energy and defense.

    SOCHI, April 30 (RIA Novosti)

     

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