Russian Self-Destruction: Gazprom’s $910 Billion Gaffe Shows Putin Economic Waning

  • Date: 03/04/14
  • Halia Pavliva and Ksenia Galouchko, Bloomberg

No company among the world’s top 5,000 has suffered a bigger collapse in market capitalization than Gazprom.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg: Gazprom’s profit for the first nine months of last year calculated under Russian standards declined 9 percent to 467 billion rubles ($13 billion). 

Back in April 2007, in the midst of the greatest commodities rally on record, OAO Gazprom’s (OGZD) deputy chief executive officer, Alexander Medvedev, was talking big.

Russia’s natural-gas export monopoly aspired to be the world’s largest company, he said while offering up a prediction: its market value would quadruple to $1 trillion in as little as seven years.

Medvedev was off by $910 billion. Since he made that forecast, no company among the world’s top 5,000 has suffered a bigger collapse in market capitalization than Gazprom, a $154 billion plunge that’s become emblematic of the malaise that has overtaken President Vladimir Putin’s economy. The state-run company has tumbled three straight years in the stock market as it stepped up spending on everything from the Olympic games in Sochi to projects in Siberia.

“Gazprom is a champion in value destruction,” Ian Hague, founding partner of New York-based Firebird Management LLC, which manages $1.3 billion of assets including Russian stocks, said by phone April 2. “It’s not just Gazprom that failed to achieve its goal of increasing market capitalization. It’s Russia who failed. It failed to create an environment where state-owned companies would function as shareholder-owned entities.”

Aliya Samigullina, a Moscow-based spokeswoman for Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is in charge of the energy industry, declined to comment.

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