Hundreds of SMEs to be included in Russian privatisation programme

Russian privatisation: Hundreds of Russian SMEs could be put up for sale alongside some of the country’s larger blue-chip companies next year, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said yesterday, as he flagged Moscow’s  intention to make a “significant push” to speed up its privatisation programme.
“The finance ministry is for privatising as fast as possible, as much as possible,” Moiseev said on the sidelines of a conference organised in London by the Moscow Exchange.  Privatisation targets are to be revised upwards with the government hoping to recoup up to RUB 500bn ($7.84bn) each year for the next two to three years, almost exactly the size of the 2016 budget deficit which is expected to top $21bn by the end of this month. He conceded, however, that the sale of the government’s share in some companies – including the VTB  bank – might  have to wait until Western sanctions were lifted.
The privatisation programme had appeared to be in disarray last month after the then Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukaecv was fined and placed under house arrest, accused of taking a $2m bribe to smooth the way for  Rosneft to buy the government’s stake in its smaller competitor Bashneft; but Moiseev now insists that the process would be accelerated under his successor  Maxim Oreshkin.
“Even under Mr Ulyukayev the ministry of economy had prepared drafts for new blueprints which included a far longer list of privatisations,” he claimed.
So far this year, the government has sold off its  shares in diamond producer Alrosa and oil company Bashneft in its efforts to plug the budget deficit, and, while the government would  ideally like to effect the sales  through stock exchange listings, its first priority was to maximise budget revenues as fast as possible, Moiseev said. “Ultimately money is the most important  thing to us.”

Source: reuters