Putin's Energy

Gazprom Exits VNG Amid Political Tensions

Gazprom Putin Miller AFP_effect
President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller had a sit-down on April 8.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • The move by Russian natural-gas giant Gazprom involving German gas provider VNG marks further deterioration of links between the countries, which used to be strong trading partners.
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  • Facts

    Facts

    • The strategies of government-owned Gazprom are closely linked to President Vladimir Putin’s policies.
    • Relations between Europe and Russia have chilled since sanctions were imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
    • Gazprom’s move has ramifications for German companies as well as VNG’s stakeholders.
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    Audio

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The Russian natural-gas giant Gazprom has announced it intends to end its participation in eastern Germany-based gas provider VNG.

Gazprom officially said its exit is down to the fact that it has no possibility of influencing the management of VNG. Gazprom and VNG subsidiary Wintershall held a joint stake of 26.31 percent in VNG, but Wintershall sold its stake last year.

With a little more than 10 percent of shares, the Russian firm doesn’t possess a blocking minority.

Gas provider EWE in northern Germany holds about 64 percent of shares in VNG, while public utilities and municipalities in eastern Germany control more than 25 percent.

Gazprom’s decision has a fundamentally political motivation. The strategy of the gas giant, in which the Russian state holds a majority, is tightly linked to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The climate between the European Union and Russia has chilled considerably ever since Brussels imposed sanctions on Moscow because of the Ukraine crisis.

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