The Right to a Monopoly

The Right to a Monopoly

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Gazprom's stocks with a total value of $5 bln have been purchased by clients of share investment funds. Forbes sources claim that the latter are under control of the specialized company Gazprombank - Asset Management.

Well-informed sources have notified Forbes that the buyer of the two blocks of securities of the gas monopoly, which were sold last year, was the controlling company Gazprombank - Asset Management, acting in the interests of its customers. As a result of the two deals, the new owners received quasi-treasury shares of the company at the cost of $5.3 billion. The first block of Gazprom securities was sold in July, and the second transaction took place in November 2019. Gazprombank is the owner of the management company that bought the shares.

Insiders say that Gazprombank - Asset Management specializes in the management of share investment funds that were formed on the basis of the funds of the company's clients. It was the money of the fund holders that was used to purchase the Gazprom's securities. Since investments in investment funds are protected by commercial confidentiality, the data on the depositors in whose interests the shares were bought most likely will never go public. Insiders say that, as a rule, data on shareholders are not published. Gazprombank has refrained from comments on the information, RBC reports.

Previously, Gazprombank - Asset Management confirmed its participation in a transaction with Gazprom's securities. However, according to Andrey Akimov, chair of Gazprombank's board, the company became the owner of a small block of securities. The transaction was finalized with the participation of an investment interest group, he added.

The corporation led by Alexei Miller confirmed the sale of shares on November 22 last year. According to Gazprom's report, at the moment 49.61% of shares are in free circulation. These data differed from the statistics of the Moscow Exchange which estimated the share of free securities of Gazprom at 46% of the authorized share capital. The state share is 50.23% of securities.

Akimov also noted that 6.6% of Gazprom's stocks were purchased by the Russian investors. Pension funds were also among the stock buyers. According to Gazprombank's CEO, the first transaction involved the sale of a 3.59% stake in the registered capital, while the second transaction involved a 2.93% stake. The sum of both transactions amounted to 327 bln rubles. Officially, the shares were sold, by Gazprombank, a subsidiary of Gazpom, not by the parent company. Neither of the parties to the transaction announced the names of the stock buyers.

As Alexander Losev, the Director General of Sputnik Asset Management Management Company, noted in his interview with RBC, it is likely that the names of the stock buyers were known in advance, since the deals were sealed without pre-marketing. Such tactics are used when the share purchase has already been agreed upon with the so-called anchor investor.

After the second part of the transaction, Famil Sadygov, a deputy chairman of Gazprom, said that about 500 potential investors were willing to purchase the company's stocks. They were ready to buy shares for almost 198 bln rubles. It was 30% more than the price of the securities offered for trading.

However, the package was not split: it was purchased by a single buyer for 139 bln rubles. "Initially, Gazprom put stakes on selling its shares to a strategic investor from Russia, which made it possible to forestall the volatility of the company's securities quotations,” Sadygov explained. He also noted that the shares were sold at a discount of 8.4% of the exchange price at the time of the transaction, or 200.5 rubles per share. It is noteworthy that right after the transaction, the exchange quotations of Gazprom shares grew 7% and reached 235 rubles per share at the peak.

After that, one of the applicants for the shares who could not participate in the trading admitted in an interview that all the securities had been bought out by the Rotenberg family. However, Arkady Rotenberg called these assumptions a fiction. He assured that neither he nor his relatives or the companies affiliated with his family acquired Gazprom shares.

A month ago, Gazprom announced that until 2022, it intended to raise dividend payments. They will make up 50% of the net profit of the company which was calculated in accordance with international financial data reporting. For comparison, last year's results show that the corporation's shareholders will receive only 30% of profit in the form of dividends, while the current figure is about 40%.