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Russia Revives Asset Sales With Sberbank, Alrosa, Sovcomflot

Russia’s government seeks to almost triple revenue from selling assets this year as it loosens its grip on the economy, including shares of lender OAO Sberbank, tanker operator OAO Sovcomflot and diamond monopoly OAO Alrosa.

The government approved a privatization plan that targets revenue of 300 billion rubles ($9.3 billion) this year, with about half of that total coming from those three companies, Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said at a government meeting in Moscow today. That compares with 121 billion rubles last year, before President Vladimir Putin swapped jobs with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev is seeking to revive government efforts to lessen its role in the economy and boost budget revenue amid falling prices for oil and gas, the country’s largest exports. Other companies on the privatization list for this year include fertilizer maker OAO Apatit, nanotechnology holding OAO Rosnano and operators of ports in Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Vanino.

The biggest offering will be 7.6 percent of Sberbank, which should take place “soon,” Belousov said. The government owns 57.6 percent of the former Soviet savings bank and has postponed the sale several times since the original September 2011 target date, citing market turmoil. The government may later cut its stake further, Belousov said, without being more specific. The Sberbank sale may take place in September, a person with knowledge of the matter said May 29.

Rosneft, Transneft

The plan approved today also calls for the government by 2016 to sell its entire stakes in OAO Rosneft, the country’s biggest oil company, OAO RusHydro, its biggest renewable energy producer, power utility OAO Inter RAO UES and overseas crude producer OAO Zarubezhneft. The government plans to reduce its stakes in oil-pipeline monopoly OAO Transneft and high-voltage transmission monopoly Federal Grid Co. by the same date.

Belousov said the government should gain at least 100 billion rubles from the Sberbank sale. The stock fell 0.3 percent to 80.37 rubles at 12:52 p.m. in Moscow, valuing the bank at about $52 billion and a 7.6 percent stake at about $4 billion. Sberbank is the third-largest lender in Europe by market value, after HSBC Group Plc’s $149 billion, and Banco Santander SA’s $57 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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