Latvian gas utility to spin off gas distribution business

RIGA, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Shareholders in Latvian gas utility Latvijas Gaze voted on Tuesday to separate its gas distribution business from gas sales to comply with European Union competition rules.

The move also follows Latvia’s gas market liberalisation in April that will end the monopoly on supply in the country held for decades by Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom, the biggest shareholder in Latvijas Gaze.

Shareholders voted to spin off the natural gas distribution business, which will be called Gaso, from Latvijas Gaze by the end of this year.

“It’s a gas supply system operator, so it (Gaso) will deliver gas to specific consumers over distribution networks,” Aigars Kalvitis, Latvijas Gaze’s chief executive told Reuters after the shareholders’ meeting.

“At the moment we plan to found it (Gaso) at the end of November, so that we can put it (the company) to action in this year … and it will begin to work fully from … January,” Kalvitis said.

Latvijas Gaze, currently a listed company, will become a holding company and retain its listing on the Latvian stock exchange, he said.

Late last year, Latvijas Gaze split off a natural gas transmission and storage operator, Conexus Baltic Grid, ahead of the market liberalisation in April. (Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; editing by Nina Chestney and Jane Merriman)

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