Sberbank could be attractive candidate for privatisation, CEO says

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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.

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Edmund Shing, PhD

Global Chief Investment Officer
BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Edmund has over 29 years of experience in financial markets in a wide variety of positions, ranging from proprietary trading to portfolio manager in a number of financial institutions in London and Paris.  He previously held the role of Global Head of Equity and Derivative Strategy at BNP Paribas in London from 2015 to 2020, and has been Chief Investment Officer at BNP Paribas Wealth Management since November 2020.

Edmund is responsible for piloting our investment strategy and will continues to rollout out recommendations and themes with actionable advice that brings our expertise to our clients and support to our client-facing teams.  In this time of change, his expertise in following and anticipating markets is a true value added for both our customers and those at Wealth Management who serve them.

Edmund has a PhD in Cognitive and Computing Science from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and has done advanced studies in Knowledge-Based Systems and in Experimental Psychology.  He is an EFFAS-certified financial analyst. He has also authored the book “The Idle Investor” published by Harriman House in 2015, proposing 3 simple investment strategies that take only a few minutes to execute per month.

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