List of Government IPOs Will Be Announced Soon

05 May 2010

/the MoscowTimes.com/17 February 2010/By Alex Anishyuk/ - A list of state-owned companies set to be privatized will be announced within a few weeks, but the government will wait until the economy returns to full health before carrying out any of the sales, presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich said Tuesday.

 

“We’re currently preparing the list, and … the priority will be given to transportation, logistics, shipping companies, as well as airports and seaports,” he said Tuesday at the Economist's Russia Business Roundtable. “Be patient, wait for another few weeks, and you will have the list - we believe the first quarter is not the right time.”

In order to ensure that the government can make money on the sale and investors can generate the necessary returns, a fair price must be reached on the privatizations.

"This compromise is hard to reach during the crisis, especially since it was difficult to sell these assets at their pre-recession prices,” he said.

But Dvorkovich sees hope for the flagging economy, just as he sees hope for the poorly performing Russian Olympic team.

“I spend a lot of time watching the Olympic games, and unfortunately, the Russian team is not doing very well, but I hope we will catch up soon,” he said.

“The same I hope will happen with the Russian economy,” he said, adding that he was watching the Olympics on television until late each night, which has affected his working schedule.

Dvorkovich said a large-scale sell-off of state assets is necessary in order for the country to modernize. Modernization has become the motto of President Dmitry Medvedev, who hopes to kick Russia's dependence on fossil fuels and develop a high-tech economy.

Last December, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the government would sell off most of the state enterprises slated for privatization through an initial public offering,

The government said last year that it planned to sell stakes in 14 strategic companies this year, as well as 435 other state-owned enterprises, for a total of 77 billion rubles ($2.5 billion).

But President Dmitry Medvedev last week ordered the Cabinet to sell off more government stakes in major strategic companies to private investors over the next two years and come up with a list of assets to sell by March 15.

The assets floated for sale last year contain such potentially attractive companies as the airline Aeroflot, television company Channel One, telecoms operator Svyazinvest, oil producer Zarubezhneft and oil pipeline monopoly Transneft.

Dvorkovich called on businessmen to support the government’s push to modernize the economy, saying the cooperation could be mutually fruitful.

“The government should share the risk with business. It has some resources,” he said. “We will share these with the companies that work in industries that we deem priorities, and we may reduce taxes for them. Which in its turn will improve the balance sheets of these companies and incite banks to participate more actively [by lending more].”