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Shuvalov says sale of Sberbank shares paves way to VTB privatisation

First Deputy Prime Minister said VTB needs serious institutional investors and serious partners

PAVLODAR, September 20 (Itar-Tass) —— First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the closure of the deal to sell Sberbank shares will pave the way to the privatisation of VTB.

“Since the Sberbank transaction is over, we should start working on VTB as well,” Shuvalov said.

He believes that it’s the right time not only to discuss with experts and VTB top managers how to attract money into the budget from privatisation but also to augment the bank’s capital.

Shuvalov said the bank needs serious institutional investors and serious partners.

He said earlier that the Sberbank savings bank should be privatised by the end of this year.

“I think it should be sold this year,” Shuvalov said.

There are different views regarding this issue, he admitted. One is that the bank should be sold this year. Another is that this is not the best time because volatility is high and it is necessary to wait till 2013-2014.

At the same time, Shuvalov is of the opinion that “if we keep waiting we may never get it [the best time] and if this volatility continues for five more years, there will always be the argument against selling”.

Sberbank controls about one-third of Russia's rapidly developing banking market. Its shares have been traded for many years in Moscow, but the ADR offer in London is its first deal at a European exchange.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier confirmed plans to privatise state-owned banks, including VEB's subsidiaries.

The privatisation of state-owned banks aims to encourage greater competition in this sector. The president confirmed plans to sell subsidiaries owned by Vnesheconombank (VEB).

The government's privatisation plan includes more than 850 organisations, such as VTB bank, Sovcomflot, the United Grain Company, RusHydro, Sberbank, Rosneft, Rosagrolizing, Rosselkhozbank, Russian Railways Company, and others.

Russia will continue to privatise state-owned banks after 2015.

According to the privatisation plans, the government intends to reduce its share in Sberbank, VTB and Rosselkhozbank to 50 percent plus one share before 2013.

“Privatisation will proceed on all fronts. In other words, we will sell companies that are directly owned by the Russian Federation, companies that belong to Russian regions, and companies that are controlled by the Russian Federation,” Shuvalov said earlier.

VTB is a backbone Russian bank, which has built an international financial group. VTB Group possesses a unique international network among Russian banks, with over 30 banks and financial companies in 19 countries worldwide. VTB offers comprehensive services to its customers in the CIS, Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the Russian market, VTB Group is ranked 2nd in all major indicators.