Putin Says Russia May Sell Majority or Entire Stakes in State Companies

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the government may become a minority shareholder or sell its entire stake in some state assets, possibly including VTB Group, Russia’s second-largest lender.

“Is it possible that the state will become a minority shareholder in such assets or exit altogether? It’s possible,” Putin said today at a Moscow investment forum organized by VTB.

“This would take time,” he said. “Necessary changes in the economy and the social sphere would be needed. These are important assets for us. But on the whole, it’s entirely possible.”

Putin’s comments came after VTB Chief Executive Officer Andrei Kostin spoke about the sale of a 10 percent government stake in the lender. On Oct. 1, Kostin said VTB “definitely” plans to conclude the stake sale by mid-2011.

“We’re talking to strategic investors and evaluating the market,” Kostin said today. “The government will have the final word.” The lender’s main goal is to “increase capitalization,” he said.

Kostin proposed that representatives of investors who buy into VTB should be included on its supervisory board.

To contact the reporters on this story: Artyom Danielyan in Moscow at adanielyan@bloomberg.net; Maria Levitov in Moscow at mlevitov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Sweetman at msweetman@bloomberg.net

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