Russia plans to sell 7.6 percent of OAO Sberbank (SBER), eastern Europe’s largest lender, by as early as September as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expedites the government’s privatization program, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
The time line for state asset sales may be approved at a Cabinet meeting May 31, the person, who declined to be identified until the government makes an official announcement, said today.
The government owns 57.6 percent of Moscow-based Sberbank through the central bank, or Bank Rossii, and has postponed selling part of that stake several times since the original September 2011 target date, citing market turmoil.
Bank Rossii First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said in January the government wanted Sberbank’s stock price to get “closer to 100 rubles” ($3) before it offered shares. Sberbank shares have tumbled by almost 20 percent after hitting the 100- ruble mark in February for the first time in seven months.
“I don’t think the window earlier this year has been missed,” Anton Karamzin, Sberbank’s deputy chairman, said in a Moscow interview on May 25. “While some of the ingredients of a successful deal may have been in place from time to time, some of the other ingredients have not been there.” Karamzin said Sberbank, as the country’s “proxy stock” had been “unfortunate” to drop as much as it has due to risk aversion for Russian equities.
The stock rose 0.5 percent to 80.72 rubles in Moscow by 1:52 p.m. today.
“Market conditions have not really improved, quite the contrary, but I guess we all hope that by September things will be different,” Peter Westin, chief strategist at Aton Capital, wrote in e-emailed comments today.
Medvedev, who swapped jobs with now-President Vladimir Putin this month, told First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov to draft a new schedule to sell all major state assets outside the oil and gas industry by 2015, the person said, confirming a report earlier today in the Vedomosti newspaper.
Alexander Baziyan, a spokesman for Sberbank, declined to comment on the government’s privatization schedule and nobody authorized to comment at the central bank could be reached by phone immediately.
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