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GDF Suez acquires 9% stake in Nord Stream

GDF Suez has become Nord Stream’s fifth shareholder with a 9% holding, following its acquisition of 4.5% each from founder members Eon Ruhrgas and Wintersall Holding.

The two German energy companies now each have a 15.5% holding. The consortium’s other shareholders are Russia’s OAO Gazprom with 51% and the Dutch gas infrastructure company Gasunie with 9%.

First agreements on these changes to Nord Steam’s shareholding structure were signed yesterday at the annual International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. The final closing of the deal will take place in the coming weeks.

“Nord Stream is a vibrant example of the value of co-operation between Russian and European Union (EU) companies along the energy value chain, underlining the interdependency between Russia and Europe in energy security: Russia has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, and Europe is Russia’s largest market. Nord Stream’s European shareholders also partner with Gazprom in gas exploration, production or transmission,” said Nord Stream managing director Matthias Warnig.

“It is a further sign of confidence in the financial, commercial, operational and contractual strength of the Nord Stream project that another of Europe’s strongest energy groups has joined the consortium,” added Warnig.

“The participation of GDF Suez represents a further strengthening of the European dimension of this key Russian-European joint venture to meet Europe’s growing demand for imported natural gas.”

Now that France’s GDF Suez has also become a shareholder in Nord Stream, the consortium includes shareholders from countries representing about 40% of the EU’s total annual consumption of natural gas: Germany, Netherlands and France.

Nord Stream’s shareholders are providing 30% of the €7.4bn of the project’s finance, with the remaining 70% to be provided by international banks and export credit agencies. The privately financed project consortium has already started construction of its 1,224km natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea and is scheduled to start transporting Russian gas to Europe in 2011.

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