Rus­sia says state as­set sales open to in­vestors

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

For­eign in­vestors will be able to buy stakes in Rus­sian state com­pa­nies, the Krem­lin said, though Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin's made no fi­nal de­ci­sion on the ex­tent of a pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­gram. "Rus­sia was and re­mains open for for­eign in­vest­ment and Rus­sia is in­ter­ested in at­tract­ing new for­eign part­ners," Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told re­porters on a con­fer­ence call Tues­day, a day af­ter Putin said that only Rus­sian-based in­vestors could buy stakes in state com­pa­nies.

The pres­i­dent told the govern­ment to con­duct fur­ther work on the as­set-sale plans and his de­mand for Rus­sian ju­ris­dic­tion is in­tended to fight off­shore own­er­ship schemes, Peskov said. "If the ques­tion is about a for­eign in­vestor, that's one thing. If it's about a Rus­sian in­vestor, it must not be an­other off­shore scheme," he said.

Putin or­dered that "new own­ers of pri­va­tized as­sets must have Rus­sian ju­ris­dic­tion" dur­ing a Krem­lin meet­ing with his eco­nomic ad­vis­ers and the heads of state com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Ros­neft OJSC, VTB Bank PJSC, Aeroflot PJSC, Al­rosa PAO, Bash­neft PAO and Rus­sian Rail­ways JSC. The Fi­nance Min­istry has an­nounced plans to of­fer stakes in state-owned com­pa­nies over two years to earn about 1 tril­lion rubles ($13 bil­lion) as it seeks to cover a se­cond year of bud­get deficits af­ter the col­lapse of oil prices tipped Rus­sia into its first re­ces­sion since 2009.

The bud­get deficit, al­ready at a five-year high in 2015, risks swelling to as much as 6 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct this year un­less the govern­ment takes mea­sures that may in­clude a 10 per­cent cut in spend­ing, Fi­nance Min­is­ter An­ton Silu­anov said Jan. 13.

The bud­get's in a "crit­i­cal" sit­u­a­tion, while the gen­eral fi­nan­cial tur­bu­lence means there's no point wait­ing for mar­kets to re­bound to al­low as­set sales in more fa­vor­able con­di­tions, Econ­omy Min­is­ter Alexei Ulyukayev said at a meet­ing of the min­istry's coun­cil on Tues­day. The govern­ment's task is to carry out qual­ity, trans­par­ent deals "in this ex­tremely un­fa­vor­able mar­ket," he said. The govern­ment is con­sid­er­ing broad­en­ing the list of big en­ti­ties to be pri­va­tized in 2016, Ulyukayev's deputy Olga Der­gunova also said on Tues­day.

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