OAO Sberbank fell the most in seven weeks as Russia’s central bank started selling a stake in the country’s largest lender, fulfilling the government’s pledge to reduce its role in the economy.
Sberbank sank 1.4 percent to 95.68 rubles by the close in Moscow, the biggest retreat since July 31. The shares lost as much as 2.6 percent earlier. Sberbank’s preferred shares slumped the most of the 30 stocks on the Micex, losing 3.9 percent.
Bank Rossii is offering the equivalent of 1.71 billion shares in ordinary and global depositary stock at a range of 91 rubles to the market price at the time the order book closes, the central bank and Sberbank said in a statement today. A sale at the low end of the range would raise 156 billion rubles ($5.1 billion). Sberbank’s shares closed at 96.99 rubles on Sept. 14.
“There’s an overhang effect from a large volume of shares being sold in the market,” Natalia Berezina, an analyst at Uralsib Financial Corp., said by phone from Moscow.
Sberbank has the third-largest weighting in the Micex at 14 percent, Bloomberg data show. Russia aims to close the book on the sale today or tomorrow, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The sale will be priced in rubles and dollars, with as much as 15 percent of the stock being sold through the Micex Stock Exchange and the rest going to institutional investors. Sberbank said it may acquire the equivalent of 20 billion rubles of ordinary shares in the offering at the same terms as other investors.
Russia’s government is seeking the sale as part of its plan to raise 1.5 trillion rubles through 2015, according to the Finance Ministry. Bank Rossii’s stake in Sberbank will fall to 50 percent plus one share after the share sale.
“From an emotional point of view, this is a powerful catalyst for the whole market,” Mikhail Shlemov, an analyst at VTB Capital, said by phone. “This is a strong signal that the government is serious about its intentions to liberalize the market.”
The Micex has rallied 9.1 percent this year, rising more than 20 percent from this year’s low on May 23 to enter a so- called bull market on Sept. 14.
Sberbank expects the shares to fetch a “maximum price” after the U.S. and European central banks announced measures to spur economic growth, Chief Executive Officer German Gref said by phone.
“We’re lucky, we waited a long time,” Gref said today. “Our shareholders set a goal of selling the stake at the maximum price. Now is the most favorable time both to sell the whole stake.”
Decisions by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank “raised investor optimism,” Gref said.
Bids for Sberbank shares may be accepted for as long as three days, including today, Gref said. It’s too early to say when pricing will be set, he said.
“We’ve been working on the sale for 15 months,” Gref said. “Today is the best time.”
Banks managing Sberbank’s share sale have received orders for all stock being offered, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. Banks managing the offering are set to stop taking orders tomorrow, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.
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