The Russian Central Bank is divesting itself of 7.58% of
shares in Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, a long awaited move that
has restored some credibility to Putin's stalled privatization
promises for the Russian economy (
[caption id="attachment_60823" align="alignright" width="300"
caption="Sberbank branch in Pyatnitskaya, Moscow"]
The move would be one of
Russia's largest share sales in recent years
, reports the
New York Times
Dealbook, as the government aims to reduce its stakes in a number
of the country's largest companies.
Russia's biggest lender expects a "maximum
price" after the U.S. and European central banks
announced measures to spur economic growth, Sberbank Chief
Executive Officer German Gref said, in a rare, candid
statement on the deal timing.
"We're lucky, we waited a long time. Our shareholders set a goal
of selling the stake at the maximum price. Now is the most
favorable time both to sell the whole stake and to get the
The sale has been held up for more than a year by weak markets,
but last week's announcement of a new round of credit easing by the
U.S. Federal Reserve after the ECB's new bond-buying commitment
lifted sentiment, and Sberbank management seized the moment.
"This was the best imaginable day of the past 15 months to take
the decision to go to the market," Chief Executive German Gref told
Reuters in a telephone interview, after
Sberbank stock hit its highest
since April on Friday.
The price ranges from 91 rubles a share to the market price when
the book closes, which means the sale will reap at least 160
billion roubles ($5.25 billion) or more, with market sources saying
already fully subscribed
after one day of the three day offering.
The sale will reduce the stake of Russia's Central Bank to 50% +
1 voting share, with no new capital to be raised as part of the
Emerging Money co-founder and CNBC emerging markets commentator
Tim Seymour says this is
"one of the biggest deals of the year for not only Russian
investors but global investors. The sale will help clear a
stock overhang that has held back Sberbank's share performance for
over a year, and capped Russian market valuations at a big discount
to other emerging markets.
"In my view this stock is 15% higher after the recent Russia run
without this overhang. Sberbank has loan growth close to 30% and
margins that have been expanding. This is the most liquid name in
Russia, which means it will be also be played by global crossover
investors who normally wouldn't have been comfortable with Russian
"Russia needs to see this deal go off well as there is a
heavy slate of privatizations coming for next year."
Up to 10-15% of the shares will be offered to local Russian
investors on the MICEX exchange, with the remaining 85-90% offered
to international institutional investors in London in the form
of global depositary shares, with each GDS representing four