Russian firm Gazprom used London money markets to raise nearly £700m


Neil Craven, Financial Mail on Sunday

A giant Russian gas company controlled by the Kremlin used the City of London money markets to raise nearly £700million on the same day as Theresa May delivered a key speech threatening sanctions.

Gazprom completed the deal despite rising tensions between the British government and Moscow.

In a separate deal, the Russian finance ministry also completed a £2.9billion issue of bonds – a way of raising cash from financial markets using IOUs – which included almost £1billion from London investors.

Gazrpom: The gas giant used London money markets to raise £700m

Gazrpom: The gas giant used London money markets to raise £700m

Gazrpom: The gas giant used London money markets to raise £700m

May said on Tuesday it was ‘highly likely’ that Moscow ordered the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. 

The speech was delivered amid an escalating war of words between Parliament and president Vladimir Putin and speculation Britain may seek to curb Russian financial activity in London.

But the Russian embassy in London wrote a series of goading tweets aimed at British politicians. 

One said: ‘Successful @GazpromEN bonds sales in London with demand three times higher than the placing (€750 mln). Business as usual?’

Gazprom used five banks including three Russian institutions with London offices to help drive the process.

They included VTB Capital, the European arm of state-backed Russian bank VTB which is currently under sanctions from the US. 

VTB Capital has a City of London office in Cornhill just minutes from the London Stock Exchange.

The Tweet: 

‘The timing is fairly deliberate as a show of strength,’ Kieran Curtis at Aberdeen Standard Investments in London told Bloomberg when asked about the finance ministry’s bond deal.

In November Russian energy giant En+ raised £1 billion through the sale of its shares on the London Stock Exchange. 

Its founder Oleg Deripaska is believed to have close links to Putin. In February, it emerged that MI6 was investigating the fundraising.

More than £50billion has been raised in similar deals since 2005.

One former Russian banker, Roman Borisovich, now an anti-corruption campaigner, said: ‘I think it is completely ironic that just as the Prime Minister is threatening Russia with all sorts of nasty things, they are issuing a bond on the UK capital markets for three quarters of a billion euros.’

Borisovich said the Government should seek to ‘expel’ Russian state-run companies which are currently operating in the City.

‘Depriving Gazprom of the convenience of using London as its financing centre would hurt,’ he said.

He added that the effect on the City of proposed curbs may be less severe for the City than many imagine. 

‘I think the importance of Russian money to London has been completely exaggerated,’ he said.



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