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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Miller Gets Gazprom-Media Position

Itar-TassMiller and Medvedev before a Gazprom board meeting in September. Medvedev may become the firm's CEO in 2008.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller on Friday was elected chairman of the board of Gazprom-Media, the media holding said.

Miller, who was also recently elected the chairman of Gazprom's pension fund, replaced Alexander Dybal, the previous board chairman, who earlier left for a post at Gazprom Neft.

Gazprom-Media general director Nikolai Senkevich said Friday that the company was sure that the board's new composition would make it "even more effective."

"That Alexei Borisovich is heading Gazprom-Media's board of directors is not only a big honor for us but also a huge responsibility," he said in a statement posted on the company's web site.

Irina Zenkova, a Gazprom-Media spokeswoman, said there was nothing surprising about Miller's appointment, as he also chaired Gazprombank and Gazprom Neft. "This is just a recognition that the holding is a sound business," she said.

Some analysts suggested Friday that the move could be part of an exit strategy for Miller, who has suffered from poor health this year and was hospitalized with a kidney ailment in the summer.

Alexei Mukhin, a media analyst with the Center for Political Information, said Miller's new job was not related to the upcoming State Duma and presidential elections. "I believe it is a golden parachute for Miller, whose health has deteriorated recently," he said.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said the Gazprom-Media appointment was strictly a business decision. He said Miller had been involved in the media holding before the appointment and that Friday's move meant that he would now do it formally.

Kupriyanov dismissed claims the appointment was a perk for Miller.

"How many golden parachutes does one person need?" Such speculation was "nonsense," he said.

Miller has been Gazprom CEO since 2001 and is seen as a close ally of first deputy prime minister and Gazprom board chairman Dmitry Medvedev, who is widely seen as a potential candidate to succeed President Vladimir Putin.

Zenkova denied that the new post would be a sinecure for Miller, saying Gazprombank would be a better place if Miller was looking for a cushy job.

Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib, said that because of his recent illness, Miller had been less involved in Gazprom recently. "It is expected that he will leave as part of Gazprom's move to the much more active expansion phase expected from next year," Weafer said in e-mailed comments.

He added that there had been speculation that Medvedev would change his role at the company to that of chief executive from the second quarter of 2008.

"But the Kremlin will not want to lose Miller's experience entirely and hence this may be to accommodate him in a different role but still within the group," Weafer said.

In addition to NTV and TNT entertainment television channels, Gazprom-Media controls, among other media outlets, Ekho Moskvy radio, Izvestia newspaper and Itogi magazine.

Gazprom-Media reported revenues of $883 million and net profit of $120 million in 2006.

Staff Writer Nabi Abdullaev contributed to this report.