3 Min Read
* Gazprom to reorganise Berlin operations
* Handelsblatt reports 100 job cuts out of 230 at unit
* Wholesaler Wingas could also be affected (Adds details, reference to Wingas, context)
By Vera Eckert
FRANKFURT/MOSCOW, March 29 (Reuters) - Gazprom Germania, the Berlin-based subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom, will reduce its staff in Germany as it restructures operations, Gazprom officials said on Wednesday.
Gazprom Germania, which has annual sales of 17 billion euros ($18.3 billion) and oversight of about 50 other Gazprom units across 20 countries, would seek to complete staff lay-offs by the end of 2017, a spokesman for the German unit said.
He did not say how many posts would go, but Handelsblatt business daily reported about 100 of its 230 staff would be laid off. It also reported that Gazprom's German wholesale trader Wingas would be affected by the reorganisation.
The Gazprom Germania spokesman said lay-offs would be handled in close coordination with the works council.
The number of Gazprom subsidiaries has increased rapidly in the past two decades or more. But Gazprom, which supplies a third of Europe's natural gas needs, is now facing more competition from other suppliers.
This includes rising imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) which compete with Russian pipelines, driving down prices for consumers. The price of gas for 2018 at Germany's NCG trading point has fallen by a quarter over the past two years.
Russian businesses have also been grappling with European Union sanctions imposed over the conflict with Ukraine over Crimea.
"Our priority is to create synergies and reduce parallel structures," a Gazprom spokesman in Moscow said of the reorganisation at the German operation, without giving details.
A spokesman for Wingas said the unit was being integrated more closely into the Gazprom group, without elaborating.
Wingas, which employs 400 at its Kassel headquarters, came under Gazprom's full ownership in 2015 in an asset swap with former joint-venture partner, chemicals firm BASF.
Last month, Wingas announced a transfer from May of its commercial activities in Britain to Gazprom Energy, a subsidiary of London wholesaler Gazprom Marketing and Trading (GMT).
Wingas, which has been operating as a wholesaler since 1990, sells gas to local utilities and industries. It is Germany's second biggest supplier behind Uniper, and larger than its two other main rivals RWE and VNG.
$1 = 0.9273 euros Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Edmund Blair