Belarusian stake in Slavneft has one potential purchaser

On November 25, Belarus will try to raise the issue of selling its 10.8 percent stake in the Russian-Belarusian Slavneft oil company again. Before Russia starts the largest privatization project, which is the sale of the 75 percent state stake in this company with the initial price of $1.7bn, Minsk wants to be ahead of Moscow and sell its assets for a commensurable price. Belarus did not manage to do this on November 22, though analysts accept the possibility that the situation could still change.

However, there is no obvious economic sense in selling the Belarusian stake before the sale of the actual full control of the company. On November 22, only one purchaser displayed interest in the company. This was Slavneftebank, which offered $200m for the shares. The State Property Fund of the Belarusian Economy Ministry was not satisfied with the offered price, but there was only one bid. The Belarusian government will decide on it on November 25.

Head of the Belarusian Property Fund Gennady Podgorny stated that Slavneftebank was acting on behalf of the Sibneft oil company. But the Russian company does not confirm this information and prefers to keep from commenting on the Belarusian auction. At the same time, even other candidates for the Russian stake in Slavneft doubt that Sibneft participated in the tender. Analyst of the Troika Dialog Investment Company Valery Nesterov attributes such a low interest in the Belarusian auction to the fact that it is secondary for Russian oil companies and "withdraws resources, which are necessary where the major 'fight' is focused", the Izvestia newspaper reported.

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