Gazprom Continues Sibur Quest

Gazprom last year paid as much as 24.2 billion rubles ($767 million) to buy up Sibur's assets and debts as the world's top natural gas producer tried to regain control of Russia's largest petrochemical company.

The gas producer paid 9.8 billion rubles as of December 31st for short term promissory notes of its bankrupt unit, Gazprom said in its 2001 annual report. It also made two and a half billion rubles of long term investments in Sibur and gave the unit 11.9 billion rubles so that Sibur could buy stakes in six subsidiaries.

The state controlled Gazprom bought 50.7 percent of Sibur in January 2001 and has said it intended to turn it into a pan European petrochemicals company with a billion dollars a year in sales. Europe's biggest gas supplier has spent more than six months seeking to regain control over the subsidiary.

“It's positive for Sibur that Gazprom financed these acquisitions, but at the same time Sibur increased its debts” to Gazprom, said Sergei Suverov, an analyst at Bank Zenit. “Gazprom doesn't have a consistent policy or strategy for Sibur, as one day it wants to save it and the next day it wants to bankrupt it.”

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