Russia's Sberbank to sell more shares Tuesday

By bne IntelliNews September 17, 2012

bne -

As bne reported two weeks ago, Russia's biggest bank, the state-owned Sberbank, will carry out a secondary share offering (SPO) on September 18. Offering 7.6% of global depositary receipts (GDR) in a dual listing in London and Moscow, the bank hopes to raise RUB149bn ($4.9bn) in what will be by far the largest Russian equity offering in years, while re-launching the Kremlin's stalled privatisation programme at the same time.

The bank is hoping to make use of a window of opportunity that has opened up for Russian issuers to get long-delayed share issue plans off the ground. Leading health services company MC Medical group announced September 17 an IPO in London this October, hoping to raise $150m.

The investment sentiment pendulum is clearly swinging back in Russia's direction, driven by the combination of a slowdown in China and a new round of quantitative easing (QE) in Europe and the US.

The SPO is good news and should lift the mood considerably. There is a lot of new money floating about thanks to the new round of QE and Russia's economy remains one of the bright spots in Europe. Moreover, the Kremlin is making a concerted effort to continue reforms, albeit in a limited way, that will convince more people to at least look at Russia again.

Sberbank will start a round of meetings with potential investors after the Central Bank of Russia formally announced the start of the sale on September 17.

The bank will offer shares in the range of RUB91 a share and the market price at the time that the book for orders closes, according newswires. Sberbank shares have risen as rumours of the sale have gathered momentum in the last few weeks. The shares closed up 4.6% ay RUB96.99 at the close of Moscow's Micex on September 14. The shares last traded at RUB97.05 on Micex.

"The offerings represent an opportunity for us to further diversify Sberbank's investor base and secure an international stock exchange listing. We view this as a critical step in our broader plan to reinforce Sberbank's position as the leading Russian financial institution, and transform it into one of the world's top performing banks in terms of profitability, operational efficiency and service quality," German Gref, president of Sberbank, said. "With a strong balance sheet and significant scale, Sberbank is well positioned to maintain its solid market share in Russia and to capture additional growth opportunities in Russia and beyond."

Alfa Bank said the offering will include 1.7bn existing shares of Sberbank, which is equivalent to 7.6% of total share capital, and 7.9% of ordinary shares. The offering will reduce the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) stake to 50% of total share capital plus one share. According to the announcement, the ordinary shares to be sold via Micex will comprise up to 10% of the total offering, subject to being increased up to 15% at the discretion of the CBR. "We believe that the CBR's offering is well timed, both because of market strength and because of expected pressure on sector and Sberbank profitability. We expect the price of the shares to fall in the near term due to the offering. We also expect negative near-term impact for shares of other EM banks as well as listings of Russian companies in other sectors."

Renaissance Capital added in a note: "While we may see some minor weakness initially, we strongly believe that by removing the overhang, the stock is due to see a re-rating. We have the broader view that the Sberbank placement should not only help Sberbank to re-rate, but will support a wider Russia market refocus and re-rating story."

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