Russian Ministry of Economic Development intends to privatize Sberbank and VTB

 Russian Ministry of Economic Development intends to privatize Sberbank and VTB

The Russian Ministry of Economic Development will prepare proposals on the privatization of Sberbank and VTB, the head of the Ministry, Alexei Ulyukayev, said, adding that it is necessary to accept changes to the legislation in order to sell Sberbank.

According to him, Russians have begun to consume less and save more money. Therefore, an advanced banking system is needed, which would be able to "recycle" that amount of savings. In order to do that it is necessary to increase the capitalization of banks, which is possible through the privatization of Sberbank and VTB.

Russia's Sberbank CEO German Gref said that he has a positive attitude towards the idea of selling Sberbank shares, but the issue has not been discussed with the government yet, TASS reports.

The head of the department of stock markets and financial engineering of the Faculty of Finance and the Banking Business of RANEPA, Konstantin Korischenko, said in an interview with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza that "it's necessary to search for funds to supplement the budget." According to him, the cost of both Sberbank and VTB is large enough, in spite of the recent decline in the market. "In addition, Sberbank and VTB have the most actively traded securities in the Russian market, so it is easier to establish what is called the 'market price' through them," the expert added.

Speaking about the possible approval of the privatization of two banks by the government, Korischenko noted that "the Minister of Economy is a part of the government, so it is unlikely that he would make proposals, which previously have not been discussed."

According to him, "there must be funds located in Asia among the main buyers of Sberbank and VTB because they are interested in access to the Russian market." "Perhaps there are Russian agencies which have money and are ready to invest in the financial sector, where Sberbank and VTB are the key players," the head of the department of stock markets and financial engineering of the Faculty of Finance and the Banking Business of RANEPA concluded.

The chairman of the Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development, Anatoly Aksakov, said that talks on the privatization of Sberbank and VTB have been ongoing for a long time, adding that such plans "were registered in the Banking Sector Development Strategy until 2015."

According to the expert, "the cause of non-privatization of major banks has two components." "The first is the current situation on the markets, which is not very favorable, many banks are on the sanctions list now, which caused a weak demand for their shares. Second, the macroeconomic situation is also not very favorable, so the banks are sold below their potential value," he said.

"The second reason is that banks may lose from this decision, because the majority of customers and investors of these banks understands that VTB and Sberbank will always be supported by the state," Aksakov added.

According to the expert, now is not the best time to engage in privatization. "The budget is sagging due to falling oil prices. It is necessary to look for other possible solutions to this problem," he believes.

Commenting on the possible approval of the privatization of Sberbank and VTB by the government, Aksakov said that "this issue is not for today or tomorrow, it is a matter for serious discussions."

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