Russia begins privatisation drive with $3 bn bank sale

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Russia sold 10 percent in state bank VTB to foreign and domestic investors, raising over $3.2 billion in the first major sale in an expected new wave of privatisations, the government said Monday.

The government said that the offer was more than two times over-subscribed by domestic and foreign investors and as a result the sale has raised 95 billion rubles ($3.2 billion).

It said the offering was the most "successful offering of share capital in the Russian market" since the financial crisis.

The government did not identify the names of the biggest new shareholders in VTB but said that "many major US, European, Middle Eastern and Asian companies for the first time invested significant money in the Russian economy."

Russia last year unveiled a huge five-year privatisation drive in which it hopes to raise some $60 billion, a dramatic change in policy after a decade that saw the government increase control over key assets.

© 2011 AFP

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