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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, Nov. 26


AmChams Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaacs Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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