City & Corporate: Russian gas producer Novatek set for UK hire

Novatek, Russia's second-largest gas producer, is poised to appoint a UK financial comms agency for its widely reported international IPO plans.

Sources close to the pitch process say several firms have been approached about financial comms support for the company in the past few weeks. The agencies concerned, which are believed to include Shared Value, Citigate Dewe Rogerson, M: Communications and Finsbury, were expecting a final decision from Novatek before today (8 April).

Novatek declined to comment and in a statement to PRWeek refused to give 'names of the companies with which we had the meetings'.

Novatek IR officer Alexey Ivanov is co-ordinating the pitch.

Novatek's plans for a sale of at least ten per cent of its stock emerged last year and market commentators have even speculated that the company could make it into the FTSE 100 index of blue-chip stocks.

Although Novatek contributes only three per cent of Russia's gas output, it increased production by 59 per cent in 2003 and looks set to post another 50 per cent rise in this financial year.

Last month Novatek said it had made a net profit of £99m in 2004, up 70 per cent on 2003.

Novatek supplies gas to Russian energy companies but is heavily dependent on the much larger state-owned Gazprom's infrastructure and pipelines.

Last year the world's fourth biggest oil company Total bought a 25 per cent stake in Novatek for £560m.

The deal restored some investor confidence in Russia, whose investment security had been called into questions after president Vladimir Putin jailed Mikhail Khordokovsky, the CEO of Russia's biggest oil company Yukos in 2003.

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