Kremlin adviser says Sberbank sale to start in 2011

February 3, 2011



Russia plans to start the privatisation of Sberbank its largest lender, in 2011, after selling shares in rival VTB, the Kremlin’s top economic aide told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

The government has said it plans to cut its stakes in Russia’s two top lenders to 50 percent to plug the budget deficit, offloading 35.5 percent of VTB and 7.6 percent of Sberbank by 2013. Sberbank CEO German Gref said last Friday that the sale might not go through until 2012.

“We believe both VTB and Sberbank (privatisations) can start this year, Sberbank later in the year,” Arkady Dvorkovich told Reuters Insider television on the sidelines of the Troika Dialog Forum Russia 2011.

In the biggest state asset sale since the 1990s, Russia is seeking to raise $32 billion in the next three years by reducing government stakes in a raft of companies, from oil firms to banks.
Dvorkovich said he supported public offerings over private sales as the most effective way of proceeding with the privatisation drive.

“From what I personally can see it (investor interest in Russia) is big; we have weekly meetings with international investors … Public offerings will be more successful than private deals.”

Dvorkovich said tax increases and inflation were among the main domestic threats to Russian economic growth.

“Inflation is still a problem. It’s higher than we wanted it to be,” he said, but added that for the full year inflation would still come in at under 10 percent.