* Gazprom to reorganise Berlin operations
* Handelsblatt reports 100 job cuts out of 230 at unit
* Wholesaler Wingas could also be affected
(Adds details, reference to Wingas, context)
By Vera Eckert
FRANKFURT/MOSCOW, March 29 Gazprom Germania, the
Berlin-based subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom,
will reduce its staff in Germany as it restructures operations,
Gazprom officials said on Wednesday.
Gazprom Germania, which has annual sales of 17 billion euros
($18.3 billion) and oversight of about 50 other Gazprom units
across 20 countries, would seek to complete staff lay-offs by
the end of 2017, a spokesman for the German unit said.
He did not say how many posts would go, but Handelsblatt
business daily reported about 100 of its 230 staff would be laid
off. It also reported that Gazprom's German wholesale trader
Wingas would be affected by the reorganisation.
The Gazprom Germania spokesman said lay-offs would be
handled in close coordination with the works council.
The number of Gazprom subsidiaries has increased rapidly in
the past two decades or more. But Gazprom, which supplies a
third of Europe's natural gas needs, is now facing more
competition from other suppliers.
This includes rising imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG)
which compete with Russian pipelines, driving down prices for
consumers. The price of gas for 2018 at Germany's NCG trading
point has fallen by a quarter over the past two years.
Russian businesses have also been grappling with European
Union sanctions imposed over the conflict with Ukraine over
"Our priority is to create synergies and reduce parallel
structures," a Gazprom spokesman in Moscow said of the
reorganisation at the German operation, without giving details.
A spokesman for Wingas said the unit was being integrated
more closely into the Gazprom group, without elaborating.
Wingas, which employs 400 at its Kassel headquarters, came
under Gazprom's full ownership in 2015 in an asset swap with
former joint-venture partner, chemicals firm BASF.
Last month, Wingas announced a transfer from May of its
commercial activities in Britain to Gazprom Energy, a subsidiary
of London wholesaler Gazprom Marketing and Trading (GMT).
Wingas, which has been operating as a wholesaler since 1990,
sells gas to local utilities and industries. It is Germany's
second biggest supplier behind Uniper, and larger than
its two other main rivals RWE and VNG.
($1 = 0.9273 euros)
(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Editing
by Christoph Steitz and Edmund Blair)