The Gazprom Management Committee approved the investment program for 2018 in the amount of 1.278 trillion rubles, the monopoly said. One third of it will be financed by external financial borrowings, the amount of which will amount to a record 416.97 billion rubles. ($ 7 billion at the rate of the Central Bank of Russia on Thursday). The adopted financial plan will ensure coverage of Gazprom's liabilities without a deficit, the report said. The program still needs to be approved by the board of directors.
With the growth of the investment program by 13.3%, the company's external borrowings will grow by 43.5%, according to Interfax. If the size of the investment program of Gazprom exceeded 1 trillion rubles. as early as 2013, the external borrowings of the company began to grow sharply from 2015.
Until 2016, in the basic version of the investment program, Gazprom's external borrowing was taken at the level of 90 billion rubles. But they managed to keep within them only once - in 2014. As a rule, the actual level exceeded the plan by at least 2 times. At the same time, in 2017 the peak of Gazprom's payments on debt will be $ 11.7 billion, then payments will decrease: up to $ 6.9 billion in 2019 and $ 4.3 billion in 2020. Net debt of Gazprom at the end II quarter is 2.3 trillion rubles, the ratio of net debt / EBITDA - 1.6.
As follows from the materials of Gazprom, in 2017, 68% of investments were directed to the development of the gas business, 26% - oil and 3% - to energy. The most expensive projects were the "Power of Siberia" (159 billion rubles.), "Nord Stream - 2" (111 billion rubles.) And the Amur Refinery (102 billion rubles.).
In comparison with the base level of 2017, investments in the next year will also increase by one third. The funds will be spent on the development of the Chayandinskoye field and the construction of the "Siberian Power", the development of gas transmission networks in the North-West region, the projects for ensuring peak balance and the construction of the Turkish flow, a Gazprom spokesman told Vedomosti. On Thursday, Gazprom reported on the constructed 520 km of the Turkish Stream on two strings. Work is already in the economic zone of Turkey.
Such growth in loans is primarily due to the launch of several large Gazprom projects in 2019, says Raiffeisenbank analyst Andrey Polishchuk: the next three years will be the most intensive for the company's investment program. It may be necessary to make advance payments to pay for part of the work at the end of the construction, he suggests. Gazprom is not subject to sanctions, although, of course, the current situation, for example with Nord Stream-2, complicates the search for financing a little, interest rates for Gazprom may be higher. As an option for Gazprom, there may be a search for Chinese partners, "the expert adds.
In the spring, Gazprom also considered raising funds through the sale of part of its treasury package. The company owns 6.6% of its own shares worth 206 billion rubles. (according to the Moscow stock exchange on Thursday).
How the growth of the investment program will affect the dividend payments, the company has not yet reported. However, in August the management of Gazprom said that it was aimed at preserving a conservative financial strategy and a balanced approach to the implementation of the dividend policy in 2018-2020.
The dividend policy of the concern adopted in 2015 allows it to pay in the form of dividends from 17.5 to 35% of net profit. However, the government has been discussing for several years the idea of raising the dividend payment rate for state-owned companies to 50%. In 2016, Gazprom paid shareholders RUB 190 billion, or 20% of its net profit under IFRS. While state companies were supposed to send 50% of profits under IFRS or RAS (from the larger one) to the dividends, Gazprom managed to get an exception. In October, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said his department expects a common dividend payment rule for all state-owned companies, including Gazprom and Transneft (words for Interfax).
Most likely, the dividends will remain at the same level - about 8 rubles. per share, Polishchuk assumes. Probably, this is a decision coordinated with the government, so that in the most intensive period of implementation of the investment program the company did not have to borrow more money, he believes.