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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report Says Gazprom Eyes Stake in OMZ

A Gazprom unit may take over heavy machinery firm OMZ as part of attempts by the government to bring key strategic assets under its control, Vedomosti said on Thursday.

The newspaper quoted a source close to the situation as saying that OMZ, which is run by Georgian Economy Minister Kakha Bendukidze, has been in talks with Gazprombank -- Gazprom's banking arm -- for six months but had yet to reach an agreement.

OMZ is one of Russia's biggest heavy industrial companies, producing key parts for nuclear reactors and other equipment. The company has a market capitalization of $160 million.

Vedomosti reported that OMZ might be in takeover talks with other companies, including Basic Element, copper company UMMC and a transport unit of Severstal.

The Kremlin has sought to tighten control over key sectors of the economy through Gazprom, the world's No. 1 gas company, despite criticism from liberals that the move contradicted market-economy principles.

It was unclear how much Gazprombank could buy in OMZ.

Bendukidze himself has one-quarter of OMZ's shares. Gazfond, another Gazprom unit, controls about 15 percent in OMZ, Vedomosti said, while the rest is divided among the company's managers, subsidiaries and others.

Last year, Gazprombank bought a majority stake in Atomstroiexport, one of the pillars of Russia's nuclear industry, from Bendukidze.