Russia may move company head offices east in Asia pivot
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday ordered officials to draft plans to move the head offices of some state-owned companies to far eastern Russia as part of an effort to develop the region, a senior official said.
Russia wants to increase its clout in Asia, where it has eager clients for its oil and gas including China and Japan, and is looking for ways to develop the sparsely populated stretches of country from Siberia to the eastern coastline.
President Vladimir Putin hosted an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the coastal city of Vladivostok in 2012 and has made what Russia calls its Far East a priority in the Kremlin term he started that year.
"We must create a business climate and infrastructure that will enable us to compete successfully for investment and labor resources ... with our closest neighbors in the Far East," Medvedev told a government meeting, according to his website.
"(Medvedev) gave us instructions today on moving several big companies with state ownership ... to the Far East," Putin's representative to the region, Yuri Trutnev, told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
Trutnev did not name any company and suggested the plan had not got that far yet.
"We are to prepare proposals which will be reviewed by the leadership of the country," he said.
A move 6,400 km (4,000 miles) east could face resistance from executives and staff, and a plan launched by Medvedev during his 2008-2012 presidency to move many government offices to suburban Moscow never got off the ground.
Several subsidiaries of state-controlled gas company Gazprom have moved to St. Petersburg.
Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Dobycha Shelf said on Wednesday it would move to the island of Sakhalin, off Russia's eastern coast, and that a separate subsidiary would be created for operations off its northern coast.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman, editing by David Evans)