Exclusive: Gazprom to cut hundreds of traders as Kremlin retreats from West

From Reuters - March 14, 2018

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian gas giant Gazprom will cut hundreds of jobs at its overseas trading and export offices, including Britain, and move them to St Petersburg, according to two sources familiar with the plan, which comes at a time of rising tensions with the West.

One of the sources said the decision reflected a broader trend of Russian state firms retreating from the West as part of President Vladimir Putins drive to repatriate capital to reduce exposure to sanctions and also shore up the domestic economy.

In Russia, this story can be sold as a job creation exercise on home turf. This is useful, especially ahead of the presidential election, said the source, referring to the vote on Sunday that Putin is widely expected to win.

The reorganization comes as relations between Russia and Britain, where Gazprom has the largest trading office by far, have hit a new low after Prime Minister Theresa May said Moscow was to blame for the attempted murder a former Russian double agent in an English city.

However the jobs decision was taken earlier this year, long before the spy scandal erupted, according to the sources who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Gazprom, which has its headquarters in St Petersburg, said it was too early to comment on numbers and moves. The company last month that it planned to reorganize its overseas trading and export operations but gave no details.

This work is aimed at strengthening the companys position abroad, a spokesman said.

Gazproms overseas trading and exports divisions employ around 2,000 people, with the bulk of them - around 1,000 - in London. It also has offices in locations including Paris, Houston, Singapore and cities in Germany. Not all employees are traders, as they also include finance and logistics specialists.



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