Sycamore fund interested in Latvian gas stake

International investment fund Sycamore is ready to purchase shares in the Latvijas Gaze natural gas utility for several hundreds of millions of euros, said Indrek Rahumaa, Estonian businessman, Sycamore fund manager and one of Latvia’s Lauma International textile company owners, in an interview with Latvian daily Diena December 5.

He said that there is interest in Latvijas Gaze shares and there is also the necessary financing available – several hundreds of millions of euros. "It is a large sum, at the same time, there are not many other objects in Latvia of a similar scale. So, the investment funds that wish to invest in Latvia are eyeing this deal positively," he said.

He said that two years ago the Estonian-registered fund participated in the auction of Estonian gas company Eesti Gaas, but remained second largest bidder. Latvijas Gaze seems an even more interesting investment of a larger scale, said Rahumaa.

The businessman said that the fund is ready to purchase all shares in the company, incuding from Russian concern Gazprom. The fund is also aware that Latvijas Gaze is a company of strategic importance for Latvia.

"Yes, we are interested to buy all shares. There are four major shareholders, and 3 percent of shares are listed on the bourse, so the total number of shareholders we have to contact is large. Of course, considering the company’s strategic importance and national interest, we are also holding a dialogue with the government," he said.

"We have serious plans and a clear vision about the company’s future development – how it should operate in the new market situation. First, it should trade not only gas, but also electricity and offer other services. This forms a competition in the market, allowing consumers to choose the best offer. Second – we see that the company has already made the first steps, but they should be continued – Latvijas Gaze should become a modern and transparent company," said Rahumaa.

However, it is far from the first time an investor has voiced supposed interest in buying into the Latvian gas market, though such talk does not always equate to actual deals taking place.

The largest shareholders of Latvijas Gaze are Russia's Gazprom (34 percent), Marguerite Gas II (28.97 percent), Uniper Ruhrgas International GmbH (18.26 percent) and Itera Latvija (16 percent).

Latvijas Gaze shares are quoted on the Secondary List of to the Nasdaq Riga stock exchange.

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