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Gazprom Agrees to Deal for Government to Acquire Controlling Stake


The Russian natural gas giant, Gazprom, has agreed to a deal that will give the Russian government a controlling stake in the firm.

Gazprom Thursday said it had set the price for the additional 10.74 percent stake at just over $7 billion. The government already has a 39.3 percent share.

Gazprom was to have merged with the state-owned oil company, Rosneft, but that deal fell through earlier this year. Foreign investment in Gazprom will be allowed once the state owns the controlling stake.

The Russian government has already essentially dismantled the Yukos oil firm, and Rosneft acquired a key Yukos production unit that was sold at auction last year.

Critics say the Kremlin is trying to tighten its control of the vast oil market, and the Yukos action was part of moves to punish former Yukos chief Mikhail Khordorkovsky for his support of the political opposition - a charge the Kremlin denies.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.