№ 6 (June 2007)
Gazprom Denies French Acquisition Rumour
Gazprom has denied it has struck a secret deal with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to gain assets from the merger of French Oil and Gas giants Suez and Gaz de France.
Suez has been preparing to sell some of its global assets in order to gain European Commission Monopolies approval for its merger with Gaz de France, and it had been widely reported earlier in the week that Russian gas monopoly Gazprom was in negotiations to purchase these assets in reciprocity for awarding French company Total a 25% stake in the development in the Shtokman field.
On Tuesday Russian news agencies even reported that Sarkozy had thrown his weight of support behind the planned move; however, in a statement given to the Moscow Times, a Gazprom spokesman flatly denied the rumours, saying: “Regarding the rumors, we deny them. Negotiations on buying GDF or Suez assets are not going on.”
But despite further speculation from various news agencies, these reports have now been scotched by parties on both sides, and it appears unlikely that Gazprom will acquire any such stake. However, such a move would be consistent with Kremlin policy of expanding Gazprom's global reach, and it seems likely that Russia’s gas giant will attempt to gain a greater access and increase ties with the European market in the future. While this is the case, the kind of speculation we have seen this week and the long-time rumours that Gazprom would like to buy British giant Centrica will persist.