Uzbekistan’s largest state-owned enterprise, the oil and gas company Uzbekneftegas (UNG), will be restructured to improve its long-term sustainability and credit quality following a decision by the country’s government to implement a corporate transformation plan prepared with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The decision was announced in a decree signed by the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and is a part of a series of comprehensive energy sector reforms underway in Uzbekistan to strengthen the country’s resilience to external economic shocks and increase economic growth.
UNG’s financial sustainability is critical to the country’s economy and energy sector. The company provides more than 80% of Uzbekistan’s energy and electricity, contributes almost 20% of the national tax revenues, and accounts for 10% of gross domestic product.
Weak corporate governance and financial management systems, however, have raised concerns about the resilience of the company to withstand external economic shocks and the risks that could pose to the country’s economy and development.
In 2018, the government requested ADB technical assistance to help UNG develop a corporate transformation plan to improve transparency in its financial reporting and increase financial discipline, efficiency, and production.
Under the terms of the transformation plan, UNG will be restructured into a corporate legal entity that is run independently with enhanced governance and financial management structures. Meanwhile, Uztransgaz, a subsidiary of UNG that controls gas transmission in Uzbekistan, will be unbundled from the parent company and function as a standalone entity. The move is expected to remove any conflict of interests between gas producers and suppliers, while improving transparency.
“ADB commends the government for taking another important step in its energy reforms,” said ADB Country Director for Uzbekistan Ms. Cindy Malvicini. “Unbundling UNG into independent production, service, and transmission companies – and divesting non-core assets – is consistent with good international practice.”
The transformation of UNG will bring the company in line with international financial reporting, auditing, and governance standards that are expected to improve its ability to raise capital from international investors to finance the expansion and modernization of its gas transmission network.
Modernizing and reforming Uzbekistan’s energy sector is the centerpiece of the government’s ambitious program to transition Uzbekistan to an industrialized and upper middle-income country by 2030. The reforms are designed to help the country meet local demand for energy and supply surplus power to neighboring countries through an increased regional power trading network.