The Pride of Russia, Tanking Gazprom Seeks Bailout

A symbol of Moscow's resurgence a year ago, the natural gas giant is foundering
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2008 9:02 AM CST
Aggressive re-nationalization by Russia's former president Vladimir Putin led to Gazprom's use as a vehicle to acquire other private properties for the state, an action which has led to massive debts.   (AP Photo/ Ivan Sekretarev)
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(Newser) – Just a year ago, Russian natural gas titan Gazprom was burning through global competition on its way to becoming the world's largest corporation. Now the state-owned darling of investors worldwide is deep in debt and flirting with a government bailout. A symbol of Russia’s resurgence as a global economic power, the company has tumbled from third to 35th place in global market cap rankings, shedding 76% of its value along the way, the New York Times reports.

As the world’s largest natural gas supplier, Russia enjoyed the lift provided by surging energy prices. But aggressive re-nationalization by former-president Vladimir Putin led Gazprom to pile up debt totaling $49.5 billion, nearly matching the combined amount coming due for Brazil, India, and China in 2009. The 76% drop in value since January compares to an 18% decline at ExxonMobil.