October 10, 2013 / 4:58 PM / 6 years ago

Russia Finance Ministry to fight for higher dividends from state companies

WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Russia’s Finance Ministry will fight for its plan to require state-owned firms to pay out 35 percent of their profits as dividends, despite opposition from some of the firms.

In September, the ministry submitted a plan to increase dividend payouts from the current 25 percent by 2016 and calculate them based on International Finiancial Reporting Standards, but no final decision has yet been taken. .

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told journalists on the sidelines of the autumn International Monetary Fund and the World Bank meeting in Washington on Thursday that the issues have been discussed with the government and President Vladimir Putin.

“We are here ready to argue, because this is a case where companies should reduce their costs, increase profits to work towards the goal,” Siluanov said.

The ministry’s dividend proposal was criticised by German Gref, CEO of Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank. Gref warned that the bank would have to slow lending growth if required to pay out more.

Sberbank, majority-owned by the central bank, paid shareholders 17 percent of its internationally reported profit as dividends for 2012, while VTB, another big state-owned bank, paid 16.5 percent.

Earlier this month, the central bank said that the plan may not be applied across the board and may have to exempt state-owned banks.

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