In the depths of a freezing winter in 2005, European politicians anguished, as they do during many winters, about supplying heat to millions of homes and businesses. It was a good time for the Russian energy giant Gazprom to strike a deal with European utility companies to construct a hugely ambitious 1,200-km pipeline that would extend from the wilds of Siberia through the Baltic Sea to the German coastline and, starting in 2012, deliver about 55 billion cu m of natural gas annually to Western Europe. With investment in the pipeline venture totaling $7.4 billion, you might have expected the top executives, who include former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, to set up shop in a splashy metro like Berlin or Moscow. But the firm, now called Nord Stream, was quietly incorporated in a tiny Swiss town called Zug, where the one shopping street, Bahnhofstrasse, runs between a lake and Alpine hills and the best-known product is a cherry-liqueur torte. More...
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