Dec 22 (Reuters) – Sberbank (SBER.MM) could be an attractive candidate for privatisation, German Gref, CEO of Russia’s biggest bank, said on Friday, as the government looks to stimulate profitability and cut costs at state-owned companies.
The Russian government owns controlling stakes in many large companies, including a 50% plus one share stake in Sberbank. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said this week there were about 30 large companies where the state could possibly cut its shareholding, but he did not name any.
Gref also did not name any companies when asked about the plan in an interview on Russia 24.
“I generally think that the vast majority of state-owned companies could be privatised, including Sberbank,” he said. “We are a very attractive asset, they will be happy to buy us.”
“If the state at some point in time decided to privatise 25% of Sberbank – and for state control, 25% plus one share is enough – it would increase the investment attractiveness of the Russian market and stimulate the whole financial market.”
Shunned by Western capital, Moscow is seeking ways to foster more domestic private investment, increase economic efficiency and, ultimately, bolster budget revenues as it ramps up spending to fund its war in Ukraine.
Sberbank, one of Russia’s largest companies, is set to make record annual profits in 2023 and Gref confirmed plans to pay out 50% of net profit in dividends.
He also noted that Sberbank’s profits would continue growing in 2024 and 2025. The central bank and other major lenders expect a general slowdown in banking sector profits.