Zubkov to Run for Gazprom

Gazprom confirmed on Monday that Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov was the top-ranked official running for its board after sources said he was set to become chairman of the world's largest gas firm.

Gazprom's current chairman, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, is poised to become the country's next president after the March 2 election, meaning that the top job at Gazprom, one of the world's 10 most valued stocks, will become vacant.

Zubkov -- a former head of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service -- might chair Gazprom after June's shareholder meeting, sources said last week.

Gazprom is viewed as the backbone of the country's economy as it accounts for a large portion of budget revenues, controls one-fifth of global gas reserves and is a key tool of the Kremlin's foreign policy in its decisions about gas exports and pipelines.

On Monday, Gazprom said the state, which controls the firm, had nominated Zubkov as well as Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko, chief executive Alexei Miller and Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina to the 11-seat board.

Other state nominees include Khristenko's deputy Andrei Dementiyev, former Property Minister Farit Gazizullin, the country's energy envoy Igor Yusufov and the deputy head of the Federal Property Management Agency, Yury Medvedev, who is not related to Dmitry Medvedev.

Gazprom as a holder of treasury stock has itself nominated the head of Gazprombank, Andrei Akimov, deputy CEOs Alexander Ananenkov and Mikhail Sereda, and the head of the economic department, Yelena Karpel.

Germany's Ruhrgas, which has a 6 percent stake in Gazprom, proposed to re-elect its head Burckhard Bergmann to the board.

Other candidates include the head of the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange, Viktor Nikolayev, MICEX exchange head Alexander Potyomkin, investor Boris Fyodorov, Bob Foresman from Renaissance Capital, the head of big-business lobby group the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Alexander Shokhin, and Yevgeny Yasin, rector of the Higher School of Economics.

Gazprom's daily operations are run by Miller, but Medvedev as chairman has approved all major deals signed between Gazprom and Western governments and companies.

Gazprom said the new board would be elected at the June 27 annual general meeting. The register to participate in the meeting will close May 8.