Russia unveils asset sale plan

Russia
has announced plans to sell minority stakes in 11 state-run firms which it says
could raise about $30 billion.

The
part-privatisation scheme, its biggest since the 1990s, is set to begin next
year and will include Sberbank and its oil firm Rosneft.

But
state railways operator RZhD will not be included, said Alexei Uvarov of the
economic development ministry.

Russia
has been looking for ways to plug its budget deficit.

For
the past decade, Russia’s policy has been to avoid the privatisation of
state-owned firms.

Under
the change of policy, energy pipelines operator Transneft, state bank VTB and
hydroelectric power operator Rushydro will also be partly sold off.

Mr
Uvarov did not give details on the size of the holdings which would be made
available.

All
of the firms have already been part-privatised to a very limited extent. This
will be extended, but Russia would keep a controlling stake in all the firms
under the plan.

The
country’s budget deficit ballooned during the economic crisis after years of
surpluses in the good times.

Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin said that this year’s deficit was likely to stay above
5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

After
several years of robust growth, Russia’s GDP fell by 7.9 per cent last year

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