New Gazprom May Open Up New Options

Gazprom, Russia's largest company, was awarded its first credit rating on Monday by rating agency Standard & Poor's. S&P said in a statement it had assigned the energy giant's foreign-currency debt a single "B" rating, which gives it a positive outlook on a par with other well-regarded and managed Russian energy companies such as LUKoil. "The ratings reflect the company's role as the owner and operator of essentially all exploration, production, processing, transportation and export assets in Russia's highly developed natural-gas sector, and its privileged position as a supplier to the large and growing Western European market," S&P said. Gazprom accounts for a quarter of the world's natural-gas reserves with 29.9 trillion cubic meters of proven reserves at fully owned subsidiaries. "The rating will probably give a necessary boost for Gazprom to move on with issuance of Eurobonds," said Alexander Ovchinnikov, fixed income analyst with Troika Dialog. No figure has been confirmed for the size of a Gazprom Eurobond, but estimates range from $750 million to $7 billion, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

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