GoldenTree’s CIO Says Gazprom an Opportunity Amid Turmoil

Steven Tananbaum, chief investment officer of GoldenTree Asset Management LP, said OAO Gazprom presents an opportunity amid turmoil.

Russia will do “its best” to honor the debt of Moscow-based Gazprom, Tananbaum said today at the Absolute Return Symposium in New York. He also said Russia’s sovereign debt is at an “interesting level,” being 50 to 100 basis points cheaper than fair value models suggest.

Tananbaum likened his purchases of Russia’s biggest gas producer to investments he made in the debt of Spanish regional authorities including Madrid last year. Municipal debt traded at more depressed levels than the country’s federal securities and provided bigger returns when it recovered, he said.

The founder of the $18 billion, New York-based investment firm also said phone-book publishers are “at an inflection point.” GoldenTree, the second-largest investor in Canada’s Yellow Media Ltd., sold about 43 percent of its shares in the publisher from October to Jan. 7, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Yellow Media handed control to creditors in 2012 in exchange for writing down most of its debt. Its stock has more than doubled in the past year.

“I wish there’d be another opportunity like Yellow Media in Canada,” Tananbaum said in an interview following his panel appearance.

Italy’s Seat Pagine Gialle SpA may follow a similar recovery, he said during the panel discussion. Like Yellow Media, Seat swapped debt for equity as part of a bankruptcy plan that that will help it shift more of its business to digital media, Tananbaum said.

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