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Business news, 28.08.2007 15:00

Finns Sell-Up After Smolny Share Grab

high_voltage_line By Yekaterina Dranitsyna

Staff Writer

Finnish energy concern Fortum has finally sold its stake in St. Petersburg based JSC Lenenergo for approximately 295 million euros ($403 million) to three companies — VTB Bank, I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1 and United Energy Systems (UES).

Earlier this year Fortum managers said the company might sell its shares in JSC Lenenergo because the stake was to be diminished as a result of an additional share issue in favor of City Hall.

“The decision to sell Lenenergo shares is in line with Fortum’s strategy of investing primarily in Russian power assets. Lenenergo is currently concerned with electricity distribution in the city of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast,” Carola Teir-Lehtinen, Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications at Fortum, said in a statement.

Fortum owned slightly over 1/3 of shares in Lenenergo. As a result of the sale, Fortum will book an after-tax gain of approximately 230 million euros ($314 million) in its third quarter financial results, the company said.

According to a VTB statement issued last week, the bank “acted as a participant in the deal” and does not have any strategic interest in the acquisition of JSC Lenenergo shares.

“The deal was signed to finance the acquisition of JSC Lenenergo shares for one of VTB’s clients. According to the agreement, in three years VTB Bank will sell and the client buy out the shares of JSC Lenenergo,” the VTB statement said.

I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1 Ltd is an investment fund and part of the KES Holding, which specializes in the Russian power industry.

The fund directly acquired 4.4 percent of JSC Lenenergo voting shares. RAO UES acquired 3.34 percent of the JSC Lenenergo authorized capital stock. The remaining part of JSC Lenenergo shares was acquired by I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1 with the mediation of VTB Bank.

I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1 highly estimates the potential of JSC Lenenergo, the company said last week in a statement.

“JSC Lenenergo is one of the basic elements in the economic development of St. Petersburg — one of the leading Russian regions in terms of economic growth. The dynamic development of the city and oblast stimulates growth in energy consumption, which in turn ensures the development of the company in the medium-term period,” the statement said.

I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1 will invest into the modernization of power networks, the replacement of depreciated equipment and the increasing of power capacity.

“We have sufficient financing to successfully realize our investment program, especially given that the average Lenenergo tariff is one of the lowest in Russia,” said Konstantin Shevchenko, chairman of I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1.

The new shareholders were positive about the issue of additional shares in favor of City Hall, which “will ensure the fulfillment of the declared business plan.” Last week shareholders approved the issue of 239.9 million rubles ($9.35 million) in shares. The issue will start at the end of 2007 and last till the end of 2008.

As a result, City Hall will own 25 percent plus one share of JSC Lenenergo, RAO UES will own 50 percent plus one share, while I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1 and VTB Bank will have 21.62 percent.

Consolidation of power networks will increase efficiency, I.D.E. Electricity Distribution Investments 1 said in its statement.

The generation assets of the original Lenenergo company were integrated into the Territorial Generating Company 1 (TGC-1) in 2006 as part of power sector reform in Russia. The company operates in the region between St. Petersburg and the Kola Peninsula.

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