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Premier: Serbia’s investigation into NIS privatization not to damage relations with Russia

August 13, 2014, 21:24 UTC+3 BELGRADE

Vucic said he had raised the question of NIS privatization during his contacts with Russian leaders

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BELGRADE, August 13, /ITAR-TASS/. Serbia has launched an investigation into the selling of Serbian gas giant Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) to Russia’s Gazprom.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday the investigation was supposed to reveal everything that should be known but would pose no threat to Serbia’s relations with Russia.

Vucic said he had raised the question of NIS privatization during his contacts with Russian leaders.

“We talked about certain things and would continue our discussion,” Vucic said.

Last Monday, Serbia’s Interior Ministry said it would investigate how NIS had been privatized by Gazprom Neft, a company affiliated with Russian oil giant Gazprom.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said an investigative group would be set up to study the deal’s circumstances.

NIS went private in December 2008 under a contract signed in Moscow by Gazprom Neft’s Director General Alexander Dyukov and the then Serbian Energy Minister Petar Skundric.  Russia’s Gazprom Neft owns 51% of shares. The majority stake was sold for 400 million euros. But

Russia committed itself to invest 500 million euros into modernization of an oil refinery in Panchevo near Belgrade what it did as promised.

NIS was sold as part of the Russian-Serbian intergovernmental agreement which also included the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline and an underground gas storage facility near the Banatski Dvor village in Vojvodina province.  Later, Gazprom bought another 5.15% of shares from the NIS minority shareholders thus increasing its stake to 56.5%.

In previous comments, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic described the NIS contract as an example of an unprofitable deal for Serbia concluded by the previous Democratic-led government.  In 2008, the Deloitte & Touche audit company, which carried out an independent assessment of the NIS deal, considered the deal to be beneficial to Serbia.  NIS was evaluated at 2.2 million dollars.  Together with the majority stake, Gazprom Neft also inherited NIS debts worth about one billion euros.

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