Sep 17 - The Russian government says it will sell up to $5 billion of its stake in Sberbank, the third largest bank in Europe, though investors will have to move quickly if they want in. Joel Flynn reports.
It's Europe's third biggest bank, largely owned by the Russian government. But now a five billion dollar stake in Sberbank may be up for grabs. Russia's selling a 7.6 percent share which could rise as high as 15 percent. A new round of credit easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve prompted the sale - it had been on hold for more than a year due to volatile markets. Sergey Shvetsov is the deputy chairman of Russia's central bank. SOUNDBITE: Bank of Russia Deputy Chairman, Sergey Shvetsov, saying (Russian): "We will complete the National Banking Council's task of reducing the Sberbank share, hopefully it will bring in a good profit. It will also pave the way for more privatisation - it's no secret that other plans can't go ahead until this deal is complete." It's thought the move will make Russia's blue-chip stock more attractive, particularly to investors from China, Singapore and Hong Kong. Some also say it will open up Russia's economy. Odd Per Brekk is the IMF's representative in Moscow. SOUNDBITE: Senior Resident Representative of International Monetary Fund In Moscow, Odd Per Brekk, saying (English): "We think it has potential to contribute to investment and growth over time. At the same time I think we should also be clear that privatisation in and of itself is not the thing that's going to...I mean it's not enough. I think what you need is a broader change in the investment environment." The Bank of Russia says the sale will take place in Moscow and London. And it's thought the order book will close on Tuesday. Investors will have to move fast to take advantage. Joel Flynn, Reuters.