Srbijagas Plans 25% Buyback Yugorosgaz From Gazprombank

Serbian natural-gas monopoly Srbijagas JP wants to buy back 25 percent from Russia’s Gazprombank OJSC to balance ownership in the joint venture that transports and distributes the commodity in the Balkan country.

The share buy-back would restore Srbijagas as a 50 percent owner of Yugorosgaz AD, alongside Gazprom OAO, for the first time since 2005, Srbijagas said in an e-mailed statement today, citing general manager Dusan Bajatovic. Bajatovic will discuss the transaction during his “pending visit to Moscow,” it said.

Srbijagas is one of the nation’s unprofitable state-owned companies that can no longer count on sovereign guarantees for new borrowing. It has relied on sovereign-backed loans to bolster liquidity as the government kept gas prices below the market as three years of an economic decline increased unemployment and cut disposable incomes.

The company owed more than 60 billion dinars ($727.7 million) to banks at the end of 2011, of which two-thirds were already long-term loans. It borrowed a total of 390 million euros ($528.13 million) from banks in 2012.