23 Jun 2010 10:18

Moscow press review for June 23, 2010

MOSCOW. June 23 (Interfax) - The following is a digest of Moscow newspapers published on June 23. Interfax does not accept liability for information in these stories.


A gas dispute between Moscow and Minsk has grown into a war. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered that the transit of Russian gas to the EU be reduced. Gazprom has promised that this will not affect its customers in Europe due to Ukraine's help and gas reserves in Europe ('Transit Won't Pass!', see also Kommersant, page 1, 'Belarus Resorts to Decisive Siphoning').

Gazprom has lowered a forecast of its exports to Europe in 2010 to 145 billion cubic meters, which is only 3% more than in 2009 and nearly 9% less than prior to the global economic crisis. "If we forecast anything in June, these forecasts come true, just as dreams do," Interfax quoted Gazprom Export CEO Alexander Medvedev as saying on Tuesday. The gas giant plans to earn $45 billion on exports to Europe, with an average price of $308 per 1,000 cubic meters. The 2010 average prices will be 1.7% higher and earnings nearly 6% higher than in 2009 ('Modest Dream').

Igor Kim wants to step down as chairman of MDM Bank 's Management Board, which was the condition of MDM Bank's merger with URSA Bank . Kim was supposed to lead MDM until the completion of the two banks' integration, which was announced in August 2009, the head of a recruitment agency said. Kim has decided to use this opportunity now, and the bank is looking for a substitution, said the recruitment agency head and a bank top manager ('MDM Bank Looking for Chairman')

MTS decided to merge with Comstar UTS by exchanging its shares for the subsidiary's shares. The boards of directors of both companies on Friday are to endorse the terms of reorganization, particularly a price of $6.5 per GDR for Comstar's shares to be bought from minority shareholders disagreeing with the reform ('Comstar to Offer $6.5 to Dissidents').


Gazprom's decision not to impose fines on its clients having long-term contracts for consuming more gas than contracted might not spare the company from the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) sanctions. FAS said on Tuesday that Gazprom might have charged such clients extra payments unlawfully and started an investigation based on a complaint from Lukoil . If FAS decides that Gazprom abused its dominating position, its subsidiaries may face fines, and consumers might go to courts to recover the extra sums they have paid (page 9, 'Fines Presented to Gazprom ').

Rosbank plans to pay 8% yearly on its bonds, which, in the view of analysts, is an extremely generous proposal for a bank of this level. Such policy could be justified by the risk of the debt window closure because of new problems in Europe and the Russian Central Bank's possible transition to higher interest rates, in experts' view (page 8, 'Rosbank Values its Debts Highly').