* Talks come less than two weeks before Putin visits Japan
* JPMorgan Chase likely to participate in the deal -sources
By Taro Fuse and Taiga Uranaka
TOKYO, Dec 5 Japan's Mizuho Bank Ltd
and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp are working on a
deal to provide 800 million euros ($845 million) in loans to
Russian gas giant Gazprom, people familiar with the
matter said on Monday, less than two weeks before Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe meets Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The banks are in talks to finalise the deal during Putin's
visit to Japan on Dec. 15-16 for discussions on a decades-old
territorial row and economic cooperation, said the people, who
were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.
JPMorgan Chase & Co is also likely to participate in
the deal, the people said.
Mizuho and SMBC officials did not immediately comment when
contacted by Reuters. JPMorgan Chase officials in Tokyo referred
enquiries to their New York office, which was closed outside of
U.S. business hours. Gazprom officials were not immediately
available to comment.
SMBC is also working on providing financing for Russia's
Alfa-Bank with state-run Japan Bank for International
Cooperation (JBIC) and Nippon Export and Investment
Insurance (NEXI), the people said.
JBIC declined to comment. Alfa-Bank and NEXI officials were
not immediately available to comment.
Mizuho Bank is the core unit of Mizuho Financial Group Inc
and SMBC is a unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group
Last month, JBIC said it was set to provide a 200 million
euro loan to the Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in
Russia led by Novatek. SMBC is also working on the
deal, the people said.
Prime Minister Abe has been betting that his close ties with
Putin and the lure of Japanese investment in fields from medical
technology to energy could ease progress in the dispute over
four islands seized by Russia at the end of World War Two when
the leaders meet.
The feud over the islands, called the Northern Territories
in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russia, has kept the
governments of both countries from signing a peace treaty
formally ending their conflict as well as strengthening ties in
the face of a rising China.
Abe said earlier on Monday that he hopes for progress in
peace treaty talks with Russia but that the decades-old issue
cannot be settled in one meeting.
($1 = 0.9470 euros)
(Reporting by Taro Fuse; Writing by Taiga Uranaka and Linda
Sieg; Editing by Chris Gallagher)