Gazprom Raises Initial Bid for NIS, Pushes to Close Deal

Gazprom, the Russian state controlled gas monopoly, has raised its initial bid for 51% of Naftne Industrije Srbije (NIS), Serbia's national oil and gas company, from $594 million to an unreported number, according to the Financial Times. Gazprom has also proposed an investment of nearly $734 million to build a pipeline through Serbia to the EU, which would yield lucrative fees from transport and lower gas prices for the country.

The initial bid was dismissed by Mladjan Dinkic, Serbian economy minister. Dinkic claimed that the bid was too low, at less than the company's book value of assets.

NIS has made a counter offer, demanding more than double what Gazprom originally proposed. Another condition NIS is asking for is that Serbia is on the main route of Gazprom's proposed pipeline from Russia to the EU.

The Financial Times also reports interest in NIS from other European energy companies, including Austria's OMV and Hungary's Mol.

Gazprom is pressing NIS to sign a deal by the end of the week, before the first round of elections in Serbia on Sunday.