Russian Government Regains Majority At Gazprom - Paving Way For Sector Reform

Gazprom has said that Russia regained a voting majority of shares in the world's largest natural gas producer. That may boost government plans to open its energy markets to competition.

Gazprom regained 4.83 percent of its shares last week when a Moscow court canceled a 1995 sale to Stroitransgaz, one of Russia's top pipeline engineering groups, said Natalia Selivanova, a Gazprom spokeswoman. The state owns 38.4 percent of Gazprom and has a majority on its board. The company owned 11.3 percent of itself before the court ruling, according to its 2001 company report.

“The lack of the government ownership control over Gazprom was a major hurdle to pushing forward the reorganization of the company and the liberalization of the domestic gas sector,” said Vladislav Metnev, an analyst at Renaissance Capital, in a report.

President Vladimir Putin has battled to restore control of Russia's biggest company since coming to power at the start of 2000. In May last year, Putin fired Chief Executive Officer Rem Vyakhirev, who often snubbed government orders during Boris Yeltsin's eight year presidency.

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