Russian government plans to use rainy day fund to buy Sberbank from central bank: two sources

FILE PHOTO: Participants cast their shadows on a board with the logo of Sberbank at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian government plans to use the country's National Wealth Fund (NWF) to buy the central bank's stake in Sberbank SBER.MM, a state banker and a source familiar with the plan told Reuters on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that Russia was discussing whether the central bank should continue to hold a controlling stake in the country’s largest lender Sberbank, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

The second source said that under the plan the central bank would transfer any profits it earned from the sale of Sberbank to the state budget. A third source, a well-placed financial market insider, said the same.

The first two sources did not say how much the government, via the Finance Ministry, was ready to pay for the central bank’s stake in Sberbank.

The central bank currently owns 50% plus one share in Sberbank, which is worth 2.8 trillion roubles ($45.45 billion)based on Sberbank’s current market capitalization.

The Finance Ministry, which is managing the NWF, declined to comment. The central bank also declined to comment.

Oleg Osipov, spokesman for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, told Reuters that the government was continuing to discuss the issue but that no final decision had been made.

($1 = 61.6105 roubles)

Reporting by Tatiana Voronova, Darya Korsunskaya and Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn