Russia's Gazprom to sell 3.6% stake worth $3.3 billion

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom GAZP.MM, the world's largest gas producer, said on Thursday it was selling 3.6% of its shares in a second offering this year, completing the sale of its so-called quasi-treasury shares.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russian gas giant Gazprom is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia, June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

The shares had been initially bought back by Gazprom in 2016 from Russian state development bank VEB [VNSCB.UL], which entered the gas giant’s share capital in 2008 when it helped state-owned entities amid the global financial crisis.

Quasi-treasury shares do not benefit from dividend payments.

The company’s stock rose by 1.8% at the market opening.

Gazprom, headed by Alexei Miller, a long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin, sold a first batch of shares in July to an unknown buyer for $2.2 billion with a discount to the market price.

The second sale had been expected by the market.

“Now, the question is about the scheme of the sale, last time it was one buyer. If the shares are sold on the market, we could see its price falling as the quantity is quite big,” Andrey Polischuk, an analyst with Raiffeisenbank in Moscow, said.

Gazprom said one of its subsidiaries would sell 850.6 million ordinary shares in Gazprom at a secondary public offering in Moscow.

The books open at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Thursday and close at 5 p.m. the same day, Gazprom said in a statement.

The stake is worth about 211 billion rubles ($3.3 billion) based on Wednesday’s close of 248 rubles per share.

Gazprom sees its investments peaking in 2020 after it would have completed large-scale projects such as the under sea gas pipelines Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream.

The company, which has been going through high-profiled managerial changes, has unexpectedly hiked it dividend payout.

Putin said on Wednesday that the company would stick to its policy of raising dividends.

($1 = 63.8319 rubles)

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Maria Kiselyova; Editing Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Edmund Blair