Putin's Spokesman Denies Reports Gazprom CEO to Resign



MOSCOW (Dow Jones Newswires), Jan. 20, 2012

A spokesman for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denied media reports that Chief Executive Alexei Miller of state gas giant OAO Gazprom will resign.

Russian media late Thursday cited people close to Gazprom as saying Miller, who has run the company since 2011, may exit the company.

Gazprom, Russia's biggest company and a supplier of a quarter of Europe's gas needs, has been criticized for poor corporate governance standards. And industry experts say the company is in urgent need of reform.

Miller, a close ally of Prime Minister Putin, is not seen as a reformer and has previously referred to himself as a "bureaucrat."

Gazprom's shares gained 1.4% in Moscow on Thursday compared to a 0.7% rise in the overall market. At 0858 GMT on Friday, Gazprom's shares were trading 0.4% higher at 186.21 rubles each on the Micex exchange, valuing the company at $140.7 billion.

Rumors that Miller could be replaced by Leonid Mikhelson, CEO of independent gas producer OAO Novatek, sent Novatek's shares down 1.7% to trade at RUB383.4 a share.

Last year, the government extended Miller's contract for the second time to 2016, but rumors of his exit have appeared regularly in Russian media in the past few years.

Putin's spokesman denied the rumor late Thursday. However, when the government in September 2010 replaced the head of state oil champion OAS Rosneft, Sergey Bogdanchikov with current CEO Eduard Khudainatov, the market was also rife with rumors, which were denied by officials until the replacement actually took place.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.



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