Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer, must repay a total of 143 billion rubles ($4.5 billion) this year, Chief Financial Officer Boris Yurlov said at the company's annual shareholders meeting.
The company's debts to banks grew to 300.3 billion rubles by the end of last year, from 255.5 billion rubles at the end of 2000, according to non-consolidated 2001 earnings also released at the meeting. It must pay 121.1 billion rubles to banks this year.
Gazprom, which is forced by government price caps to sell gas inside Russia at a loss, has increased borrowing in recent years to help tap new fields as it tries to reverse declining output. The company, which supplies Europe with about a quarter of its gas, relies on exports for its profit.
Gazprom borrowed from banks including Credit Suisse First Boston, the investment banking unit of Credit Suisse Group, Switzerland's second largest bank, and Sberbank, Russia's state-run savings bank, which is also the largest in the country. The company earlier reported that 2001 consolidated profit rose by two thirds to 100.3 billion rubles on sales of 588.5 billion rubles.
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