Bloomberg News

Russia Said to Consider Delaying $5 Billion Sberbank Deal

April 16, 2012

Russia’s government may postpone the sale of a stake in OAO Sberbank (SBER), the nation’s biggest lender, until after President-Elect Vladimir Putin’s inauguration on May 7, said people with knowledge of the plans.

A road show of the stock offering, initially scheduled to start as early as today, is being pushed back as the Russian bank’s shares drop below a level at which the government is willing to sell, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the information is private. A share sale, which could raise more than $5 billion, may still happen in the first half, depending on market conditions, the people said. No final decision has been made, they said.

The sale may be delayed until 2013 or 2014, Igor Shuvalov, Putin’s first deputy, told reporters today, adding that he backs an offering this year.

Sberbank fell as much as 2.6 percent, its biggest intraday drop in more than a month, and traded 2.1 percent lower at 92.1 rubles in late trading in Moscow. The shares have declined about 10 percent from their peak in March of 103.26 rubles.

“The markets are too unsettled to allow Sberbank to price the SPO with any degree of confidence,” Julian Rimmer, trader of Russian shares at CF Global Trading in London, said in e- mailed comments.

Spokesmen for Sberbank and the central bank declined to comment.

Last month, President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia ordered the government and central bank to formulate proposals by Sept. 1 on lowering state stakes in lenders to less than 50 percent. The Russian government plans to sell a Sberbank stake of about 7.6 percent, currently valued at about $5.1 billion.

Sberbank said March 28 that 2011 profit surged 74 percent to a record 315.9 billion rubles ($11 billion), missing the 318.7 billion-ruble median estimate of 25 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Higher revenue from lending failed to drive net interest margins higher, the company said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zijing Wu in London at zwu17@bloomberg.net; Jason Corcoran in Moscow at jcorcoran13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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