Serbia to Renegotiate NIS Price

Serbia's new government backed the sale of 51 percent of state-controlled Naftna Industrija Srbije, the country's largest oil and gas firm, to Gazprom, but formed a committee to renegotiate the price, a Belgrade newspaper reported Thursday.

The pro-European Union government approved the sale Wednesday but said the price of 400 million euros ($631 million) was too low, Politika reported.

It made the decision just days after the Cabinet began operating earlier this week.

Deputy Prime Minister Mladjan Dinkic, who was critical of Gazprom's offered price under the previous Serbian government, will head the committee.

Under the deal, Gazprom Neft will also invest 500 million euros to upgrade NIS, which owns two refineries.

Gazprom agreed to buy control of NIS with Serbia's previous government before early elections in May as part of a deal to build a leg of South Stream, a gas pipe from Russia to Italy, across Serbia.

Dmitry Malyshev, an adviser to Gazprom Neft chief executive Alexander Dyukov, rejected the idea of paying more. But Gazprom Neft could spend more on the upgrade, he said Wednesday on a trip to Serbia, Politika reported.

The agreement to buy NIS does not specify what assets are included, Dinkic and Malyshev said, Politika reported.

Gazprom Neft spokeswoman Natalya Vyalkina confirmed Malyshev's statements but had no further comment Thursday.