Market turmoil may delay Sberbank privatization

Russia may postpone its planned privatization of a 7.58 percent stake in its largest lender Sberbank from September because of the turmoil on international financial markets, Alexei Ulyukayev, first deputy chairman of the central bank, which controls Sberbank, said late on Monday.

“We must find the best position, the best ‘window’ to get a good price, which means the budget and the bank of Russia’s financial account must get a good result and investors must get good possibilities to earn money,” Ulyukayev told Russia 24 TV channel.

“The bank itself must get a good incentive for further development. If (the market) situation does not improve, share placement plans, including privatization sales, may be revised.”

The financial markets, unsettled by the uncertainty of global economic growth, have pushed Sberbank’s share price down 23 percent since the start of August, wiping over $1 billion off its value. The sale was expected to earn the Russian state around $6 billion.

Ulyukayev said however that the central bank would sell the stake before 2013.

The Federal Financial Markets Service has allowed Sberbank to place up to 25 percent of its shares abroad.

In June, Sberbank launched its long-awaited Level One American Depositary Receipts program to expand its investor base ahead of the share sale.

The Sberbank sale is part of a broader, one trillion ruble stateĀ  privatization drive, which started in February when the government sold 10 percent in VTB bank, Russia’s second largest, for $3.3 billion.

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