Business News, February 2012

Shortly after the Energy Minster advises caution on the privatisation of Rosneft, the government discloses that it is now considering the appointment of state-controlled VTB Capital as the management company of the Vanino Commercial Sea Port, which is 55 per cent owned by the state (with the state holding 73.3 per cent of the port’s voting shares). The idea is attributed by Kommersant to Deputy Minister for Economic Development Alexandra Levitskaya.

According to the newspaper, Oleg Deripaska’s En+ Group, which holds a 28.1 per cent interest in the port, is not that keen on the idea, as it had hoped to acquire a majority stake in the port after its privatisation, which would appear to have been put on the back burner for the present.

As reported by The Moscow Times in an article entitled: Minister sees credit risks in Rosneft Privatisation, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko calls for a delay in the privatisation of Rosneft, alleging the risk of higher borrowing costs if it sells further shares.

This would appear to be another tactic to prevent further transparency at the firm and also to enable the bureaucrats to continue milking the firm for all its worth.

If this trend continues, don’t expect privatisation campaigns to result in any opportunities for widespread share ownership.

It is highly likely that such companies will come on the market if and when the oil price falls again.

However, such moves will help to kill off plans to transform Moscow into an international financial centre, as to date most Russian companies are either state-controlled or controlled by oligarchs with murky pasts and close ties to government.