* Eastern German gas group diversifies into households
* Buys restructured retailer from private equity firm
* Unlisted VNG group had total 2012 sales of 9.9 bln euros
By Vera Eckert
FRANKFURT, March 18 Eastern German gas
distributor VNG, part-owned by Russia's Gazprom
which has long sought a greater share of Europe's gas
retail market, said on Monday it acquired gas retailing company
Gazprom, which has a 10.52 percent stake in VNG, inched
closer to its target of better access to lucrative nearby
European markets when it bought small retailer Envacom in late
2011 after failing to link up with RWE.
Last November, the Russian energy giant also widened its
reach in the EU with an asset swap deal with BASF over three
wholesale gas trading units and storage activities formerly
shared with the chemicals group.
A year ago, goldgas was bought and restructured by private
equity firm bluO, which is now selling it.
"VNG is to buy goldgas to make its core business complete
along the value chain of exploration, production, trading,
transport and storage," the Leipzig-based company said in a
The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
The deal is subject to cartel office approval, and a
decision is expected in the coming weeks, VNG said.
Goldgas, which comprises the brands goldgas and goldstrom,
has 130,000 customers across Germany and Austria. It supplies
households, housing associations and enterprises with power and
VNG evolved from communist Germany's gas company and is a
long-term partner of Gazprom, among other gas
It has stakes in six regional and local distributors
(Stadtwerke) in Germany and neighbouring Europe. Outside
Germany, where it is in the top group of gas firms with E.ON
Ruhrgas and Wingas, it also sells to
Italy, Poland, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria
Unlisted VNG group had total sales of 9.9 billion euros in
2012, representing a 21 percent year-on-year rise, and a net
profit of 103 million euros after a net loss of 211 million
VNG is part-owned by unlisted north-west German regional
utility EWE, in which Germany's No.3 utility EnBW has
a 26 percent stake. EWE's stake amounts to 47.90 percent.
Other shareholders in VNG include a group of local utilities
called VNG Verwaltungs- und Beteiligungsgesellschaft of Erfurt
(25.79 percent), Wintershall Holding GmbH (15.79
percent), and Gazprom Germania (10.52 percent).
VNG in January secured a 1 billion euro credit line from 12
banks for planned investments.
In a separate move, VNG is planning to sell its gas
transmission system operator Ontras, sources said earlier this
($1 = 0.7654 euros)
(Editing by Alison Birrane)