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Berlin will not block deals with Russia by DEA and Wintershall

Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 9:58pm IST | Place: London | Agency: Reuters

The German government will not object to the sale of utility RWE's oil and gas production arm DEA to investors led by Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman, a deputy minister said on Wednesday after some politicians had questioned the deal.

Critics of the sale argue against increasing German dependence on Russian energy supply and decision-making at a time when relations are deteriorating because of Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

"The security of (energy) supply is not threatened by the planned sale," said Iris Gleicke, parliamentary state secretary at the Economy Ministry, adding that European Union measures also did not present an obstacle.

"The EU sanctions that have been decided so far against the background of the Ukraine crisis do not conflict with the possible sale," she said in the lower house of the parliament, or Bundestag, on Wednesday.

She earlier made similar remarks in a meeting of the economic committee of the parliament, attendees said.

A number of politicians from the Christian Democrat and Social Democrat parties within the ruling coalition, and from the opposition Green Party, had criticised the 5.1 billion euro ($7 billion) sale to the LetterOne investment firm led by Fridman that was announced on March 16 and sealed last Friday.

Gleicke said LetterOne was based in Luxembourg and Fridman was not on a list of Russian senior business figures and officials, on whom the EU has imposed travel sanctions, or whose assets it has frozen.

The government would also not interfere with the closing of an asset swap deal between Russia's Gazprom and its German partner Wintershall, the oil and gas exploration arm of chemicals group BASF, Gleicke said.

This no-cash transaction, agreed in 2012, will give Gazprom greater access to gas trading and storage in Germany while Wintershall gains more access to Siberian gas fields.

Gleicke said the operations of gas storage facilities were subject to German law. "Therefore we don't see any danger to security of supply," she said.

In addition, the participation in the joint venture of Gazprom's subsidiary Gazprom Germania, which is based in Berlin, meant that there were no grounds under foreign trade law to deny permission for the deal, she said. ($1 = 0.7249 Euros)




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