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Gazprom overcomes investors' doubts

Issuer: Gazprom
Amount: $430 million
Launched: October 21, 1996
Global coordinators: Morgan Stanley and Kleinwort Benson

Joint global co-ordinators Morgan Stanley and Kleinwort Benson scored a considerable success last month by leading the largest international equity offering by a Russian company, a $430 million sale of stock in giant gas group Gazprom.

A deal has been in the works for well over two years, with Kleinwort Benson initially retained to advise on the sale of up to 9% of the company's stock through several transactions. This deal marks a first step, comprising just 1.15% of the equity.

Western bankers and accountants working with Gazprom are awe-struck by its size and usually trot out a gee-whiz list of statistics. Essentially the successor to the Russian ministry of gas, the company supplies 50% of Russia's primary energy. It controls one third of world gas supplies. It employs 375,000 people. It has gas reserves to last 80 years at current levels of production; few western companies' reserves stretch to 20 years. Total reserves are at least 150 billion barrels, nine times those of Royal Dutch/Shell, the nearest comparable western company. Its net assets, including the largest pipeline network in the world, have a book value of around $65 billion, analysts estimate.

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