January 28, 2013 / 10:17 AM / in 5 years

German gas firm VNG secures 1 bln euro credit line

* Says credit comes from 12 banks

* Replaces some former bilateral credit lines

* To support expansion in gas market activities

FRANKFURT, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Germany’s VNG has secured a 1 billion euro ($1.35 billion) credit line from 12 banks with a view to supporting its operations and for planned investments, the gas producer and importer said on Monday.

“The loan is for a three-year term and replaces a big chunk of existing bilateral credit lines,” the Leipzig-based company said in a statement.

It said that banks in the group included Commerzbank , Deutsche Bank, BayernLB and DZ Bank.

“Obtaining the credit is a milestone in the financing history of VNG and an expression of the trust the banks have in our future business model,” Chairman Karsten Heuchert said.

VNG evolved from communist Germany’s gas company and is a long-term partner of Russia’s Gazprom, among others. It has expanded its activities in recent years, including exploration and imports, most notably from Norway, as well as trading, transport and storage in central Europe.

VNG is majority-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). ($1 = 0.7421 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert; editing by Jason Neely)

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