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Reuters: Gazprom head to visit Tokyo, Russian bankers in town

Mon Feb 26, 2007 1:01am ET

TOKYO, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile , Research) is expected to meet with executives of Japanese firms to discuss technical partnerships and fund-raising this week, sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

The talks coincide with a visit by Russia’s Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko, who arrived on Monday trailed by an entourage of Russian bankers and businessmen to kick off a week of negotiations across the energy, banking, auto and telecom sectors. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov arrives on Tuesday.

Gazprom President Alexei Miller is also due to arrive on Tuesday and is likely to meet with the heads of Mitsui & Co. (8031.T: Quote, NEWS , Research) and Mitsubishi Corp. (8058.T: Quote, NEWS , Research), who agreed in December to sell part of their stakes in the Sakhalin-2 project to cede control to Gazprom, the sources said.

Miller last month met with Harufumi Mochizuki, Japan’s top energy policymaker, to discuss ways to attract Japanese funds and technology to develop Russia’s gas processing, gas chemicals and machine-building facilities.

The head of Gazprom-controlled Gazprombank, which is Russia’s third-largest bank, will also be in Tokyo this week to discuss plans to borrow some $3 billion on international markets, a government source said.

Gazprombank is not alone. A long line of Russian bankers entered town over the weekend.

These include officials from Russia’s No. 2 Vneshtorgbank, or VTB, and Metropol Investment Co., who are coming to Japan in quest of cheap, low-interest cash to fund Russia’s booming energy and construction industries.

Khristenko is scheduled to meet with the heads of 13 energy-related firms on Monday, including Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501.T: Quote, NEWS , Research), the sources said.

“We will of course voice our interest in Sakhalin-3 and onward at the meeting,” the industry source said. (Additional reporting by Reiji Murai)

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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