* DRs will trade on over-the-counter basis
* Sberbank tests market for further steps - analysts
* Sberbank to sell up to 7.6 pct stake by mid-Sept - sources (Adds quotes, details, background)
By Katya Golubkova and Oksana Kobzeva
MOSCOW, June 23 (Reuters) - Russia’s biggest lender Sberbank will launch its long-awaited depositary receipts programme on June 27, the Bank of New York Mellon representative said on Thursday.
“The programme becomes effective from Monday,” Graham Marshall, the head of Russia & CIS Depositary Receipts Division, told a conference call.
Sberbank picked BoNY Mellon as the depositary bank for its programme in late April, filing an application last month to transfer up to 25 percent of its shares into DRs.
“Within the United States, given that the instrument Sberbank is introducing is a level one ADR, that will trade on a purely OTC basis, there is no U.S. exchange listing or quotation of the DR proposed,” Marshall added.
“This is the first step enabling them to figure out future moves,” said Leonid Slipchenko, an analyst with Moscow-based brokerage Uralsib.
The full-fledged listing, which has yet to be obtained, will help Sberbank attract foreign investors, providing them with a play on the lender’s strong margins.
“Getting the listing before the privatisation makes sense, otherwise they (Sberbank) are limiting their investors base,” said Olga Belenkaya, an analyst with Sovlink.
Sberbank’s depositary receipts programme comes ahead of the lender’s up to 7.6 percent stake sale later this year, seen as part of a broader state privatisation drive worth 1 trillion roubles ($35.34 billion) over three years.
Sberbank will follow in the footsteps of Russia’s No.2 lender VTB , which sold a 10 percent stake sale in February worth $3.3 billion.
Analysts said Sberbank leads VTB in the Russian beauty contest, with return-on-equity staying on 20.6 percent last year — twice more than its closest peer — meaning VTB stock may come under pressure after Sberbank’s DR programme gets under way.
Sberbank’s chief financial officer Anton Karamzin did not comment on Thursday on a timeframe for the listing.
Sources told Reuters on Wednesday the lender planned to arrange investors meetings ahead of its partial privatisation next month, selling a stake of up to 7.6 percent by mid-September. (Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Will Waterman) ($1=28.30 Rouble)