(Recasts with comment from First Deputy Prime Minister's
By Ludmila Danilova and Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, June 9 Russia has denied changing its
privatisation plans after a report on Monday of delays to the
programme, though a spokesman for the office of First Deputy
Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov acknowledged the business
environment for state selloffs remains tough.
The spokesman's comments came in response to a report
quoting a government minister saying Russia was putting off the
privatisation of three companies which had been planned for this
year, in what would be the latest delay to a programme hampered
by economic uncertainty linked to the Ukraine crisis.
The plans for the year involved the sale of shares in
Rostelecom, shipping company Sovkomflot and sea port
"Nothing has changed in the plans and principles of
privatisation," the spokesman said. "We will privatise these and
other companies only when there is an appropriate economic
environment. There has been no such an environment.
"When a decent buyer with a decent price emerges, we will
sell the companies this year or next."
The government has said it hopes to raise 200 billion
roubles ($5.8 billion) by selling stakes in state companies this
year. However, Deputy Finance Minister Tatyana Nesterenko was
quoted as saying the proceeds could be less than envisaged.
"We expect a significant decline in revenues from
privatisation, to 170.8 billion roubles ($5 billion)," RIA news
agency quoted her as saying.
Later, the finance ministry said on Twitter that the state
budget is likely to get proceeds from the sale of the three
companies not earlier than 2015.
Russia's privatisation plans have been hit by a fall in the
dollar-denominated RTS share index, down about 5 percent on the
year, and weakness in the rouble, down 4.3 percent, reflecting
Western sanctions over Russia's annexation of Crimea.
"We checked the estimate for the planned sale of shares in
Rostelecom, Sovkomflot and the Novorossiisk sea port. Based on
the uncertain value, the government decided not to sell these
shares this year," RIA quoted Nesterenko as saying.
Launched in 2010 by the then finance minister Alexei Kudrin,
the privatisation drive aims to reduce the state's direct role
in the economy and improve a much-criticised investment climate.
But it has been dogged by delays.
Assets have been removed from the lists, prey to a
tug-of-war between more liberal-minded politicians and
hardliners favouring a slower approach to privatisation. Market
volatility has been exacerbated by the crisis over Ukraine,
where pro-Russian separatists and government forces are fighting
in the east.
Russia's state property management agency has said the state
may sell stakes in airline Aeroflot and oil major
Rosneft, but the latter faces objections from its CEO
($1 = 34.2725 Russian Roubles)
(Writing by Elizabeth Piper and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by
Mark Trevelyan and David Holmes)