Source Pravda.Ru

Gazprom to take part in privatisation tender in Romania

The Russian gas giant, Gazprom, will take part in the tender to privatise one and not two gas distribution company. "The Gazprom board deems it expedient to submit the final binding bid on the acquisition of a 51% stake in the Distrigaz Sud SA gas distribution company of Romania independently or in a consortium with the Dutch Marco Industries B.V.," says the company's Wednesday press release.

Relevant Gazprom departments have been instructed to prepare requisite documents for the deal. "The acquisition of a gas distribution company in Romania is part of Gazprom's export strategy, which provides for establishing contact with the end users of Russian gas in Europe," says the release. The issue will be put on the agenda of the company's board of directors.

The Romanian government announced plans for the privatisation of two Romanian companies on December 5, 2003. The potential investor is offered a 51% stake in one of the two companies - Distrigaz Sud or Distrigaz Nord, with 30% bought from the government and the rest acquired through payment for an additional emission of shares.

Privatisation tenders for Distrigaz Sud and Distrigaz Nord will be held in three stages. To take part in the first, pre-qualification stage, claimants should express their interest for the tender. For the second stage, they should prepare a preliminary non-binding bid (without say how much they are prepared to pay). The third stage includes talks with the seller and the filing of the final binding bid for the stake of one of the companies.

Gazprom sent a letter of interest for the tender on January 14, 2004. On January 22, its board approved the company's participation in the tenders and ruled that if the economic expediency of the project is confirmed, the issue would be heard again at the session of the management and, subsequently, the board of directors. On March 15, Gazprom filed the preliminary non-binding bid.

A comparison of the strategic potential and economic operation of the two companies, as well as the analysis of the market and competition, prompted the conclusion on the priority participation of Gazprom in the privatisation of Distrigaz Sud. The Bank ABM AMRO, which assessed the price of the block of shares, will provide investment consultations during the deal.

Distrigaz Sud is a 100% state-owned company and Romania's largest enterprise in the volume of gas distribution (5.8 bln cubic metres in 2003). Its share on the Romanian gas distribution market is 31% and in deliveries, 30%. In accordance with the privatisation conditions, the final binding bid for the tender should be filed by July 15, 2004.