Will Sberbank be privatized?

 Will Sberbank be privatized?

The chairperson of the Central Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina said that it would be possible to discuss privatization of Sberbank after the restoration of the Russian banking market and the growth of confidence in private banks.

"When the active phase of the recovery of the banking market is over, and concerns about the stability of individual private banks decreases, we may start the discussion again," she said in an interview with the German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

At the same time, Nabiullina noted that the Central Bank as a shareholder of Sberbank should take into account the attitude of citizens to this issue. "Polls show that the people's confidence in the bank depends on state ownership," Interfax cited her as saying.

The Central Bank of Russia owns a controlling 52.3% stake in Sberbank or 50.0% plus 1 voting share.

Sberbank CEO German Gref said lastNovember that the inclusion of Sberbank in the privatization plan for the next three years was not discussed.

But Gref has repeatedly said that he generally supports the idea of his privatization in the future.

The professor at the department of the stock market and investments at the Higher School of Economics, Alexander Abramov, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the privatization of Sberbank does not mean something negative. "Another thing is that this package should not be transferred to just one legal entity, but large investors, maybe even the population, should participate in the privatization," the expert said.

He recalled that the law limits the participation of state structures, in particular, state corporations in privatization, although the president and the government can make exceptions for this. "The difficulty lies in the degree of the authorities' preparation for the fact that a substantial part of Sberbank's shares may move towards foreign investors. For many, many decades, Sberbank has been viewed by the state as the last bastion of financial stability. But in fact, the rejection of this idea in favor of privatization by foreign portfolio investors would be reasonable, because there are no serious reasons to keep Sberbank shares in the property of the state," Alexander Abramov stressed.

Advisor on macroeconomics to the CEO of the 'Opening-Broker' brokerage house, economist Sergey Hestanov, in turn, was skeptical about the possibility of privatizing Sberbank in the near future. "It is simply impossible to find a buyer for such a volume of funds in the sphere of bank assets right now. Of course, if a decision is made, one of the state corporations will technically be able to do this, but this makes no practical sense," he noted.

The expert recalled that the goal of privatizing Sberbank in the long term was announced long ago, but it is difficult to do it for objective reasons. "When the economic situation in the country is good, the state is losing the motivation to sell state assets, and vice versa, when the economic situation worsens, the state has a reason to sell state assets, but it is difficult to find such a buyer," the advisor on macroeconomics to the CEO of the 'Opening-Broker' brokerage house said.

"Yes, sometime in the uncertain future it will certainly happen, but it is too early to assume terms, conditions and prices," Sergey Hestanov concluded.