Russian state-owned banking giant Sberbank will offer investors a 7.6% stake in a much delayed secondary public offering (SPO) in the next two weeks, industry sources tell bne.
The sale of the stake has been a key asset in Russia's privatisation programme, launched by the then president, now prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev in the summer of 2010. However, poor market conditions have caused the mooted sale to be repeatedly delayed.
According to bne sources, the government is keen to get the show on the road - literally. "All the paperwork is being prepared and is almost ready. The Sberbank team will start the roadshow very soon - probably in the next two weeks," says a bne source who is close to the bank.
Sberbank's management hope to sell the stake valued at about $5bn to international investors, as Russia appears to be enjoying an upswing in sentiment amongst portfolio investors following several weeks of fund inflows. This week, even legendary fund manager Jim Rogers, who is famously down on Russia, said that he was becoming curious and might invest.
The sale of the stake is important, as it will be taken to mean the Kremlin has re-started its privatisation drive that stalled due to poor market conditions and political uncertainly in 2011.
Russian officials have started talking up the market. Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov was quoted by Prime as saying on August 4: "The current market conditions are favourable for the sale of the Central Bank of Russia's (CBR) 7.6% stake in the country's biggest lender Sberbank."
Belousov pointed out the bank's shares are currently trading RUB93.97, higher than their IPO price of RUB89 per share.
Sberbank CEO German Gref has also said that September is a good time for privatisation of the stake.
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