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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 giant’s 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 Kogan’s 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 team’s 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 Gazprom’s largely unsuccessful program to dispose of non-core assets,” UFG said in a note to investors. Gazprom’s 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 — it’s political.”





 


Times Talk

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Apr. 23


Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of society’s most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.



Thursday, Apr. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.