March 2, 2020 / 1:38 PM / a month ago

Russian cenbank asks to postpone paying profit from Sberbank sale

MOSCOW, March 2 (Reuters) - Russia’s central bank has proposed postponing the deadline for channelling profit from a sale of its stake in Sberbank to the budget by six months due to elevated market volatility, First Deputy Central Bank Governor Ksenia Yudayeva said on Monday.

The central bank agreed to sell its 50% plus-one-share stake in the country’s largest lender Sberbank to the finance ministry for more than 2.5 trillion roubles ($37 billion) in February, citing the need to offload stakes in entities it oversees and regulates.

The deal was seen as beneficial for Vladimir Putin as the central bank was supposed to channel around 1.8 trillion roubles of its proceeds from the deal to the budget. This money could be used on a raft of new measures announced by the Russian President to boost economic growth.

Yudayeva, speaking at the lower house of parliament, said the central bank advised moving the deadline for channelling the money to the budget to Dec. 1 from June 1 due to market volatility.

As the central bank and the finance ministry agreed to carry out the deal at market prices, the recent global sell-off driven by concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and its implication ate away a large chunk of Sberbank’s capitalisation.

Sberbank shares traded at 228 roubles a piece on Monday, 19% below its 2020 peak of 270.8 roubles reached in mid-January.

“The delay in the deal does not change the picture in principal but looks sensible in the current conditions,” said Kirill Tremasov, a former economy ministry official who heads research at Locko Invest firm. ($1 = 66.9950 roubles) (Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; editing by David Evans)

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