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Belarus scraps privatization lists to sell corporate shares

MINSK, 2 May (BelTA) – Belarus has abandoned the idea of using privatization lists to sell shares of open joint-stock companies, Vice Premier of Belarus Sergei Rumas told media on 2 May.

“The decision to scrap privatization lists was made at a government session chaired by the president. At present there are no authorized lists of enterprises, which are subject to privatization this year or the next one,” said Sergei Rumas. Yet any Belarusian enterprise can be privatized if there are right conditions and an investor.

Sergei Rumas also made comments about the importance of arranging the people’s IPO by OAO Minsk Plant of Sparkling Wines on 2 May. It is a pilot project initiated by the Belarusian government. If it is successful and the shares are sold within the next six weeks, an analysis will be performed after the IPO. “It is highly probable that if the project is successful, the government will contact the president with the proposal to extend the practice onto some other enterprises,” said the Vice Premier. The initial public offering of several joint-stock companies will be the second stage of the project. But only if the placement of shares is a success, specified Sergei Rumas.

The official said OAO Minsk Plant of Sparkling Wines was a good choice for the pilot project. It was on the privatization list of open joint-stock companies. Now the company operates with a profit, has a good market position, is virtually the monopolist and therefore it is a very convenient choice for the IPO.

It is the first attempt of the Belarusian government to carry out a people's IPO. Sergei Rumas noted that the attempt of a medications company to carry out an IPO earlier had not been successful. The government had nothing to do with it, he said. Now the government is confident about the project. The value of net assets of Minsk Plant of Sparkling Wines has increased already. “If we estimated the value of shares in terms of net assets as of 1 April, it would not be Br171,000 but closer to Br200,000,” said the Vice Premier.

The people’s IPO of Minsk Plant of Sparkling Wines will last till 15 June, with at least 25% of the shares up for sale. The general meeting of shareholders will decide on what to do with unsold shares if there are any left. The meeting will also decide whether the placement of shares is a success or not.

Sergei Rumas stressed the government is interested in making this initial public offering a truly people’s IPO. Therefore, the number of shares has been limited to 1,000 per buyer. No restrictions have been imposed on the secondary market. Once the issue is registered, shareholders will be able to sell shares without any restrictions.