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Natural gas giant Gazprom's banking arm Gazpombank said on Thursday
Natural gas giant Gazprom's banking arm Gazpombank said on Thursday it will gain control of a gold deposit in Russia's Far East after buying a 51% stake in its owner from Canada's Fortress Minerals Corp.

The Canadian company agreed on Wednesday to purchase the remaining 49% interest in the Svetloye gold project in Russia's Khabarovsk Territory from Freeport-McMoran Exploration Corp. and offered Gazprombank a purchase option, valid until December 31, 2008, for a 51% stake. Fortress also announced a new strategic partnership with Gazprombank.

Fortress said that it had agreed with Gazprombank "to jointly pursue additional gold project acquisitions in Russia, capitalizing on the respective strengths of Fortress' mining expertise and Gazprombank's extensive relationships in Russia."

Fortress Minerals Corp. is a subsidiary of Lundin Group, and its shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company's market value currently stands at around $120 million. Its major asset is the license for the Svetoloye gold field. The company also holds geological exploration licenses in Mongolia and Nicaragua.

Gazprombank is one of Russia's top three banks and holds third place among banks in Central and Eastern Europe.


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