Russia’s gas giant Gazprom sold on Friday 3.6 percent of its voting shares, raising almost US$3 billion in the sale to what appears to be a single mystery buyer.
In a filing to the Moscow Stock Exchange, Gazprom said that one of its subsidiaries completed on Friday the sale of 850,590,751 shares in Gazprom at US$3.461 (220.72 Russian rubles) per share. This implies proceeds of US$2.94 billion (187.74 billion rubles).
The shares sold account for 3.59 percent of Gazprom’s voting stock, while after the sale, the gas giant’s free float is 49.61 percent from its total shares.
The company, however, did not disclose who the buyers of the stake were, and it actually wasn’t obliged to, because the stake sale was of less than 5 percent.
According to exchange data cited by Reuters, a single buyer bought the 3.6-percent stake in Gazprom. The stake sale was made at an 11-percent discount to Gazprom’s share price at closing on Wednesday.
According to Promsvyazbank analyst Mikhail Poddubsky, quoted by Reuters, the sale of shares would be a positive thing for Gazprom in the medium term as its free float grows and as its share in the stock exchange indexes could also grow.
This is not the first time that Gazprom has sold shares via a subsidiary this year.
In July, the Russian gas giant sold a 2.9 percent stake, again to just one bidder, raising the equivalent of US$2.2 billion in the process.
Just over 50 percent in Gazprom is controlled by the Russian government. The Russian company has often been accused of fulfilling Moscow’s political goals on the European gas market.
Gazprom is dominating gas supplies to many European markets, and now it also vies to meet rising Chinese natural gas demand. Russia wants a share of the huge Chinese market and the Russian gas giant looks to supply pipeline gas to China—and this will begin in weeks.