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Privatization of state corporations could solve number of problems in Russian economy

December 18, 2015, 21:42 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 18. /TASS/. Privatization of large state corporations under certain conditions could help making their activity more efficient and make up for the budget deficit in 2016 to save the money from the Russian Reserve Fund, according to the experts polled by TASS.

During the Thursday press conference, the Russian President Vladimir Putin did not rule out that in 2016 the government would start privatization of large state-owned companies - Rosneft and Aeroflot. "I do not rule out, that in order not to burn the reserves, to provide income and some changes in the structure of these large companies, the government would consider decisions on privatization," Putin said.

The colume of the Reserve Fund in November 2015 decreased by 7% to 3.93 trillion rubles ($55.25 bln). According to the Russian Finance Ministry, the decrease in the volume of funds was primarily due to the using 350 bln rubles ($4.9 bln) to finance the budget deficit.

The Russian Finance Ministry believes that next year the privatization of a 19.5% stake in Rosneft could bring 500-550 bln rubles ($7.03 bln - 7.73 bln), Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. According to him, for the company itself "it will be only a positive thing," and foreign companies will be able to participate in the deal, including Chinese.

According to the Academic Supervisor of the Higher School of Economics (HSE) and ex-Minister of Economy Evgeny Yasin, Rosneft and Aeroflot are powerful corporations, where the predominant proportion of the shares will always be in the hands of the state. "Aeroflot is the best airline company in Eastern Europe with good reputation. Rosneft is the largest state-owned corporation in the country, the foundation for the Russia's oil exports. These are the companies with shares that will see an unconditional demand," Yasin told TASS.

"It is possible that the privatization of Rosneft will interest Chinese partners, who so far have not been involved in joint projects in the oil market in Russia. Times have changed. Moscow and Beijing are developing a new economic agenda," the expert said.

At the same time, the expert considers it important to develop a mechanism for possible privatization of state-owned corporations. "In order to increase the efficiency, state-owned companies need to develop appropriate costly projects, hire managers with high performance. And if Rosneft, handing 19.5% of its shares to a potential investor, fully retains its managerial prerogatives, it would be a signal that nothing will change — the same people will be in charge," Yasin said.

Mikhail Delyagin, Doctor of Economics, Director of the Institute of Problems of Globalization, believes that the privatization of state corporations includes introduction of one or two new leaders to the Board of Directors, who will significantly affect the company’s economic policy.

"Rosneft and Aeroflot are the most successful state-owned companies in the country, which have the greatest commercial potential. So maybe it makes sense to start privatization with them, even though the economic environment is not the most suitable," Delyagin told TASS.

"The fact that privatization of Rosneft could involve Chinese investors is a significant event that changes the strategic character of relations between Russia and the West in the field of energy security," the expert said.

Chief Economist of the Eurasian Development Bank Yaroslav Lissovolik also believes that financing the budget deficit in 2016 cannot rely only on the Reserve Fund. Otherwise, the rapid exhaustion of its resources cannot be avoided. "It is necessary to use other financial instruments, including privatization," he told TASS.

"In order to ensure transparency of the privatization process, it is important to improve corporate governance, which would provide a gradual increase in the role of shareholders and their impact on the economic parameters of companies’ activity," Lissovolik said.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors