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China’s Union Pay may buy stake in Russian payment system

July 16, 2014, 12:32 UTC+3 FORTALEZA
“At the beginning Russia will own 100% in its national payment system, but in 2-3 years different shareholders may be allowed to enter it,” The Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO says
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© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Fadeichev

FORTALEZA, July 16. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) does not rule out the possibility of China’s Union Pay acquiring a stake in the country’s national payment system in 2-3 years, CEO Kirill Dmitriyev said in a news conference late Tuesday.

“Of course, at the beginning Russia will own 100% in its national payment system, but in 2-3 years different shareholders may be allowed to enter it,” he said.

When asked whether Chinese investors are interested in the system, he said, “It is too soon to say, but they will probably consider the possibility.”

In May, President Vladimir Putin signed a law ordering to establish a national payment system after Visa and MasterCard stopped servicing cards of some Russian banks as part of US and EU sanctions against the country. The law is in force from Tuesday.

Dmitriyev also said the fund keeps its interest in the development of the Udokan copper deposit and the Natalkinskoye gold field. Chinese investors are interested in both fields, while other investors are only interested in the Udokan field, he said. He said that the fund will attract money for the Natalkinskoye field by the end of the year.

The Udokan field is one of the world’s largest coper fields with the reserves valued at 26.7 million tonnes under JORC standards and investments of US $5.6 billion. The field will be launched in 2022, major ore producer Metalloinvest owns the license for the field’s development.

The Natalkinskoye field’s gold reserves exceed to 31.6 million ounces, while its resources are 59.7 million ounces. Its projected annual ore and gold capacity are 10 million tonnes and about 500,000 ounces respectively. The field will be launched June-August, 2015. Gold producer Polyus Gold owns the license for the field’s development.

The possibility of the fund’s entering the Elga coal deposit project, owned by metals and mining group Mechel, is close to zero, Dmitriyev said. “As of today there is no progress on Elga and, consequently, the possibility of participation in the project is very low or, rather, tiny.”

Mechel, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, plans to launch the Elga field’s first stage with projected annual capacity of 11.7 million tonnes of coal by 2017 with the investments standing at about $5 billion, while the company’s net debt amounts to $8.3 billion.

Dmitriyev also said that the fund expects an undisclosed Russian retailer to hold its initial public offering by the end of this year at the Moscow Exchange.

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