Ketchum aids energy giant

WASHINGTON: Ketchum managed media relations for a recent week-long trip to the US by Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev, who spoke at a US-Russia Business Council lunch in Washington and the Harvard Business School and conducted interviews with Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications and reporters covering the energy beat.

WASHINGTON: Ketchum managed media relations for a recent week-long trip to the US by Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev, who spoke at a US-Russia Business Council lunch in Washington and the Harvard Business School and conducted interviews with Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications and reporters covering the energy beat.

Ketchum SVP Noam Gelfond said his firm's work for Gazprom, arranged at the behest of Medvedev's press liaison, was a first-time, short-term project, but that the agency would be "happy to talk to Gazprom further" about future representation. Lining up interviews with reporters to talk with Gazprom was not difficult because of the high level of interest in the company, Gelfond said.

"I think there's a lot of interest in just about anything Russian these days, political or business-wise, and particularly the energy issue," Gelfond said. "My sense is that this is a new foray [for Gazprom] to reach out to the US, and they view energy security from a global perspective."

The Russian government-controlled Gazprom - Medvedev is also Russia's first deputy prime minister - has stoked international controversy for its business dealings with other Russian and Western energy companies and countries including Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.

Just in the past few weeks, the company acquired a 50% stake in a $20-billion oil and gas project controlled by Shell and two Japanese partners, and reportedly threatened to cut off gas supplies to Belarus and Georgia unless the countries agreed to higher rates next year.

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