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Ruhrgas wants to buy more Gazprom shares - 11 March, 2003

Citing a source in Ruhrgas AG, Dow Jones reported on March 7 that the German company was planning to increase its stake in the Russian gas giant Gazprom from 5.5 to 8-10 percent. If it happens, Ruhrgas will be able to participate on the Board of Directors of Gazprom, the Kommersant newspaper reported. Although Gazprom debts are growing, its shares are a profitable purchase for Ruhrgas. The Russian monopolist has a portfolio of contracts with EU member states until 2020 and in the future it is planning to enter the US market. Ruhrgas decided to become a Gazprom shareholder in 1998 when it bought a 2.5-percent block of shares for $600m. In May 1999 the German company purchased a 1.5-percent stake for $270m and in 2000 a 1-percent stake in Gazprom. In February 2003 Ruhrgas owned a 5.5-percent block of shares in the Russian gas holding. Ruhrgas executives have many times declared that they wanted to have 8-10 percent in Gazprom. At present Ruhrgas has a real chance to enlarge its stake. According to some information, the UFG company, which is controlled by member of Gazprom Board of Directors Boris Fyodorov who represents the interests of minority shareholders, is going to sell some of its shares. However, for some reason Ruhrgas cannot buy shares directly from UFG. It has to purchase them with the help of investment companies. About a month ago, the German company bought 40m Gazprom shares (0.17 percent) via Troika Dialog. The current market price of a 1-percent stake in Gazprom is about $187m.

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