Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, plans to sell a $6 billion stake in itself, now held by the government, on April 16, Reuters reported Thursday.
Sberbank plans to sell the 7.6 percent stake as a way to broaden its investor base, pushing the Russian government's stake in the bank down to a narrow majority. The sale was initially to take place in September 2011 but was postponed due to weak markets.
The deal come less than two weeks after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won the presidential election. Opposition protest during the election cycle had shaken Investor confidence in Russian financial markets, Reuters said.
The Russian central bank owns 57.6 percent of Sberbank's shares, while international ownership is around 32 percent. The sale of the 7.6 percent stake in Sberbank will decrease the government's stake in the company to 50 percent plus one share.
Government support of the bank is considered to be an important part of Sberbank's long term sustainability, a report by Moody's Corp. said. However, the Russian central bank's stake in Sberbank may create governance difficulties at the bank. "Although Moody's has not identified specific governance failures at Sberbank, such structure of ownership raises concerns about the possibility of the bank making politically driven, rather than business-driven, decisions," the Moody's report said.
Sberbank for January-February posted pretax profits of 70.7 billion rubles ($2.4 billion); Its had assets of more than 10.7 trillion rubles, or about $363.3 billion. The bank, however, faced contraction on its balance sheet due to strengthening of the ruble against the U.S. dollar and the euro.
Sberbank accounts for 26 percent of Russian banking assets and 30 percent of banking capital. Its shares have been publicly traded since 1996. The bank increased its shareholder capital in 2007 with an injection of roughly $7.8 billion.
Sberbank shares were down 1.08 percent on Thursday to $13.73.