Russia May Cut VTB Stake to 45% as Government Seeks Funds

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order Monday allowing the state to reduce its holding in VTB Bank PJSC to less than half of the bank’s stock as the government seeks to raise money to close a widening budget gap.

The new threshold for VTB to remain a strategic asset was lowered to 45 percent from 50 percent plus one share, according to the order posted on a government website.

Russia is making a new push to sell state assets to help cover a second year of budget deficits following the collapse in oil prices. Last week, the government said it invited banks from nine countries to submit proposals to broker its return to foreign capital markets as it considers ways to finance the gap.

Russia is debating selling shares in companies including oil producer Rosneft OJSC, VTB and rail monopoly Russian Railways JSC.

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