OMV CEO sees closing of Gazprom asset swap not before end-2018

Chief executive of Austrian energy group OMV Rainer Seele addresses a news conference in Vienna, Austria, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

VIENNA (Reuters) - The chief executive of energy group OMV said on Tuesday he expected an asset swap with Russia’s Gazprom to close at the end of the planned deadline running until end-2018.

Gazprom and OMV signed an outline deal in late 2016 to swap a 38.5 percent stake in OMV’s Norwegian unit for a 25 percent stake in a section of Gazprom’s Urengoy gas field, a crucial step for OMV to cut costs and secure gas reserves.

At the time, OMV said the latest expected date for the closing of the deal was the end of 2018.

Since then, OMV and Gazprom have been discussing corporate governance issues as a precondition for filing regulatory approval applications to Russian and Norwegian authorities.

A previous plan to file them in the summer of 2017 failed to materialise. OMV said Norway’s parliamentary elections in September was a reason for the delay.

“We expect that we plan for the closing to happen at the end of next year,” OMV CEO Rainer Seele told reporters on the sidelines of a business event, adding the governance talks were going well.

“We’re hoping that we can somehow make up for the time lost because of (our) waiting for handing in the documents.”

In 2016, Gazprom said Norway might bloc it from acquiring a stake larger than 25 percent in OMV’s Norwegian holding.

Gazprom rivals Norway’s Statoil in supplying gas to Western Europe.

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla, Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich, addition reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, editing by Louise Heavens