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Signing of strategic co-operation agreement on 19 Sept 02

According to the newspaper, the main settlement bank for the supplies of Russian natural gas to Europe may become Hungary's ALTALANOS ERTEKFORGALMI BANK (AEB). Prior to that, GAZPROMBANK is going to retain control over AEB, which it lost under former GAZPROM CEO Rem Vyakhirev.

According to AEB president Mikhail Rakhimkulov, the shareholders meeting of the Hungarian bank will meet on September 27 to discuss strategic partnership between GAZPROM, GAZPROMBANK and AEB. If it is approved, the bulk of GAZPROM's export earnings will be channelled through GAZPROMBANK's correspondent accounts to AEB. According to Rakhimkulov, the bulk of settlements for natural gas and proceeds from the sale of Russian gas in Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania passes through the correspondent accounts of GAZPROMBANK at AEB. This is around $2.5b per year.

However gas settlements with major gas consumers, Germany, France and Italy, are conducted through other Western banks. It is planned that these settlements will also be transferred to AEB. If these plans are implemented, GAZPROMBANK's accounts at AEB will handle up to $4-5b per year.

(NewsBase 23.ix.02)

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