Russia's Sibur eyes Moscow IPO no earlier than 2020: CEO

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) - Russia’s largest petrochemicals company, Sibur, may carry out a long-planned initial public offering (IPO) no earlier than 2020 and eyes Moscow as the main venue for the listing, Sibur’s Chief Executive Dmitry Konov said.

Sibur had previously said it would be better placed for an IPO, which it last year estimated at as much as $3 billion, after its huge new plant in western Siberia, ZapSibNefteKhim, is launched.

Konov told Reuters on Thursday that Sibur has completed construction of the plant but said he would rather not predict when the plant will start working at full pace.

“We will launch production this year, there will be output. But the exact timing of reaching the projected capacity depends on many factors,” Konov said.

Speaking on the sidelines of an economic forum in St Petersburg, Konov said Sibur would prefer listing on the Moscow Exchange to having shares also traded on a bourse abroad. He declined to comment on a possible IPO price.

Speaking about the trade row between the United States and China, Konov warned this could have a negative impact in the long term, while it could provide some opportunities in the near future.

China in May decided to levy an additional tariff of 25% on some U.S. goods including liquefied natural gas, soy oil, peanut oil, petrochemicals, frozen vegetables and cosmetics.

Washington promised to retaliate. This week, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to hit China with tariffs on “at least” another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, a move that crowned trade tensions that have risen sharply since talks aimed at ending a festering trade war broke down in early May. “Any trade wars and a decline in the international trade entail lower economic growth, which is bad... In the near term, some could make money on changes in (trade) flows,” Konov said.

“But that’s a win in the short term and a loss in the long term.”

Amid global trade issues, Sibur and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) signed a number of cooperation agreements earlier this week to join forces, particularly in processing natural gas into petrochemicals in Russia and China.

The deals were signed on the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow and called him his “best friend”. The two leaders are also set to speak at the same panel at the St Petersburg forum on Friday.

Sibur and Sinopec have also signed a distribution agreement to supply polyethylene to China from Sibur’s ZapSibNeftekhim site, the plant that plays the milestone role in its IPO plans.

“This agreement hedges us against the way we are doing on other priority markets,” Konov said, referring to the polyethylene deal without giving details on how it will affect Sibur’s production figures.

Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Elaine Hardcastle