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Coalprom?

Gazprom’s planned merger with SUEK (the Siberian Coal Energy Company) is raising some eyebrows, including those of German Gref. Too bad he has no influence. From the Moscow Times:

“Gazprom’s purchase of SUEK’s coal assets is a dangerous extreme in economic policies. We should preserve competition in our country,” Gref told reporters on the sidelines of an economic forum in Krasnoyarsk.

From Radio Free Europe:

In recent years, Russia’s state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom has purchased oligarch Roman Abramovich’s oil major Sibneft and has forced the Royal Dutch Shell oil company into surrendering part of its ownership in the Sakhalin-2 project. But the gas giant wants more. Gazprom recently announced that it plans to merge with a Russian coal supplier, the Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK). The merger, if approved by the federal antimonopoly watchdog, would create a holding company worth about $12 billion — by far the largest in Russia’s power sector — with Gazprom in majority control. … Gazprom’s advance on the coal company comes as national utility Unified Energy System (EES) is broken up and sold to investors. Gazprom itself owns an 11 percent stake. It is no secret that EES head Anatoly Chubais and the Kremlin have had differences since Putin was first elected. Chubais has been strongly critical of Gazprom’s expected inability to meet domestic gas demand. He has said that this will necessitate closing down a number of regional energy-generating enterprises and could lead to shutdowns and brownouts. He has also said that the Kremlin-controlled Gazprom is squandering funds on nonessential activities, while neglecting development of new gas fields in Russia. Moreover, Chubais’s strategy to liberalize the Russian power-generating market by selling off generating companies is not seen as being to the Kremlin’s liking. Chubais has never been regarded by Putin’s team as an “insider.” He is seen as the last remaining member of the Yeltsin “family.” If he were forced out of EES and power generation switched over to Gazprom, inefficient as it might be, it would please the Kremlin no end.

From the Times of London:

Mr Gref is the first Cabinet minister to criticise Gazprom openly. He said: “If all Gazprom’s assets, which are already worth over $300 billion, [£153 billion] are used across all economic sectors, we will find ourselves with the monopolistic state capitalism of the 19th century, and that will be a very backward step for our country.”