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Gazprom Buys Zenit

Published: December 23, 2005 (Issue # 1133)


MOSCOW Gazprom has bought a controlling stake in FC Zenit St. Petersburg, a soccer club avidly supported by the gas giants chief executive, Vedomosti reported Tuesday.

Both Gazprom and Zenit declined to comment on the report. Governor Valentina Matviyenko said that while negotiations were underway, she was not aware that a deal had been reached, RIA-Novosti reported.

Last week Gazprom which already sponsors Zenit bought a 70 percent stake in the club from Vladimir Kogans St. Petersburg Banking House, the paper reported, citing sources in both companies. Gazprom subsidiary Lentransgaz, which holds 25 percent of Zenit, sold part of its stake to Kogan in 2002, giving his bank control of the club, the paper said. The sources declined to say how big the transaction was, but Vedomosti estimated it would be between $30 million and $40 million.

Russian clubs are extremely difficult to value as it is often unclear what assets they own said Anton Derlyatka, head of East European sports business at A.T. Kearney consultancy in Moscow. But Derlyatka said the club was likely to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

The club currently rents its stadium from the city authorities, but in November Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced a deal to finance a new venue for the teams home games. Media reports at the time said the project could cost up to $200 million and be financed through tax payments by a Gazprom subsidiary that would be registered in the city.

UFG brokerage said that foreign investors, whose access to Gazprom shares are about to be liberalized, are unlikely to welcome the purchase of a soccer club.

It would be a negative development in the context of Gazproms largely unsuccessful program to dispose of non-core assets, UFG said in a note to investors. Gazproms ring-fence restrictions against foreign ownership could be lifted in a matter of weeks, once President Vladimir Putin signs off on it.

Several Russian companies including Russian Railways, RZD, and Norilsk Nickel own major football teams. Gazprom cannot like all soccer teams, so they favor one, said Valery Nesterov, an analyst at Troika Dialog. They chose the one in St. Petersburg its political.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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