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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

Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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