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Russia Gazprom boss sees long haul for any split-up

MOSCOW, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The chief executive of giant Russian gas company Gazprom said in an interview published on Tuesday that any division of the firm as part of a planned government reform would take a long time.

The government has said a reform of Gazprom, the world's largest gas company as well as a major contributor to the Russian budget and major supplier to Europe, could include dividing its key functions -- producing gas and transporting it.

CEO Alexei Miller told the Ogonyok weekly that the interests of shareholders, creditors, the state and gas buyers would all have to be taken into account if the company were split up.

"So talk about the splitting up of Gazprom can for the time being only be called theoretical," Miller said.

"In any division of Gazprom, at least two serious questions arise: who would be the inheritor of the debt and who would be able to guarantee export contracts," he added.

Miller said sending gas to Europe would continue to be the main activity of the company, which already provides the continent with around one third of its supplies. But he said the Chinese market could one day rival Europe.

He also reiterated earlier company statements that Gazprom wanted to be rid of non-core companies, which Miller put at hundreds.

Gazprom has been criticised for inefficiency and wasting funds by allowing itself to take on unprofitable activities.

The company has already announced it would sell its media arm, Gazprom-Media. Miller said the firm was checking how much it spent on its media activities.

The previous management was criticised for a lack of transparency in its management of subsidiaries. President Vladimir Putin himself has said enormous amounts had been lost at Gazprom.

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