South Korea mulls creating state-run holding company
The South Korean government is considering establishing a state-run holding company to more efficiently manage its stakes in the Korea Electric Power Corp. and other public firms, modeled on Singapore's Temasek Holdings, the Korea Times reported.
It also plans to hire private professionals to run state-run companies to boost share prices and generate greater returns on share sales.
The latest government proposal came a week after Strategy and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo said the government is studying a system under which it retains ownership of state-run companies but private experts come in and take over management.
According to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance Wednesday, economy-related ministries are investigating the viability of the creation of a holding company that will administer government stakes in public enterprises. The government plans to ask a private institute to draw up a possible scheme and finalize detailed plans by June.
It is estimated that the holding company will own stakes worth up to $103 billion, larger than Temasek Holdings. Temasek, owned by the Singapore government but managed by private professionals, holds large stakes in Singapore Airlines and other state-run companies based in the city-state.
Oil firms ink deal on Nabucco
Oil companies signed contracts on the Nabucco gas pipeline in Baku on March 5, Azerbaijani Yeni Musavat reported.
The signers also agreed on a date for the construction of the gas pipeline, but details have not been released yet.
In an interview with the press, Reinhard Mitschek, the director-general of the Nabucco project, said that one of the key objectives of constructing the pipeline is to synchronize gas production and supplies with its export.
"Therefore, we deemed it important to meet both gas producer and gas exporting companies. As I signed secret contracts I cannot tell you the names of those companies. A relevant point of the article stipulates that we do not yet make public the schedule of the project."
Mitschek believes that the reason for keeping secret details is that not all the issues have been elaborated: "The public will be informed once everything is elaborated."
Incidentally, it is already known that the head of the Nabucco project has had intensive talks with the State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijani Republic.
Mitschek said that the dates had been synchronized with the Sah Daniz project: "To merge both projects, we have chosen the year of 2013 for effectively beginning gas export. The construction of the gas pipeline will be commenced in 2010."
Gazprom Neft to ship oil to China
Gazprom Neft has notified the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry that it intends to ship 1.08 million tons of oil to China via the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline, which starts in Kazakhstan, in the second to fourth quarters of 2008, Interfax reported.
The company told Interfax that it had applied for three quarters in advance because the export schedule will be put together for the whole period effective from April 1.
The company intends to ship 360,000 tons of oil each quarter.
Two Russian companies -- TNK-BP and Gazprom Neft -- are each exporting 150,000 tons of oil to China by pipeline this quarter. Russia can ship up to 5 million tons of oil to China via Kazakhstan per year, according to a protocol signed by the Russian and Kazakh governments at the end of November. Schedules to export pipeline oil to China via Kazakhstan did not exist in the past.
Tony Considine, TNK-BP's executive vice president for downstream, said his company planned in the second quarter of this year to increase shipments to China using the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline, but he did not say how much oil the company planned to ship.
Closing oil prices, Mar. 13, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $106.22
West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $109.89