The controlling stake of Belaruskali will not be sold
The Belarusian authorities are unwilling to sell the controlling stake of Belaruskali, since the company is one of the major exporters and donors to the state budget. However, foreign investors, Indian and Russian in particular, are extremely interested in acquiring the controlling stake. They do not consider the option of participating as a minority shareholders. Therefore, taking into account the existing conflict of interests, we can assume that the shares of \"Belaruskali\" will not be sold in the coming years.
Vladimir Semashko also pointed out that Belaruskali would prematurely repay a syndicated loan of USD 1 billion, issued by the Sberbank Savings bank of Russia and the Eurasian Development Bank. The contract provides for the right to prepay the loan, and Belarus will do this as the credit conditions deteriorate in the second half of the year due to the growth of interest rates.
According to First Deputy Prime Minister, Belaruskali will repay the loan through its own funds, although earlier the loan of USD 800 million was rendered to the gold and foreign currency reserves of Belarus. Semashko explained his position by saying that in 2011 Belaruskali received foreign exchange earnings from exports of fertilizers in the amount of USD 3.2 billion. He also pointed out that if necessary the Belarusian company is able to receive a loan on more favorable terms.
According to the National Statistics Committee, the production of potash fertilizers in Belarus in January-April 2012 decreased compared to the same period in the previous year by 13.5% to 1.669 million tons. In monetary value, the exports of potash fertilizers in the first quarter of 2012 fell by 32.4% to USD 519,992 million.
The main consumers of Belarusian potash fertilizers in the first quarter of 2012 were: Brazil – USD 140.099 million (26.9% of total exports), Malaysia – USD 42.163 million (8.1%), Norway - USD 38.808 million, (7.5%), Poland - USD 37.801 million (7.3%), Vietnam – USD 36.374 million (7%), Venezuela – USD 4.554 million (6.6%), India – USD 33.301 million (6.4%), Belgium – USD 8.101 million (3.5%), Indonesia – USD 16.63 million (3.2%), Croatia – USD 14,533 million (2.8%), Ukraine – USD 14.51 million (2.8%), Russia – USD 1.488 million (0.3%), Thailand – USD 0.943 million (0.2%) and Colombia – USD 0.359 million (0.1%). There were no deliveries of potash fertilizers to China or Bangladesh in the period under consideration.
Vladimir Semashko also informed that in 2013 Belarus would begin construction of a new plant producing nitrogen fertilizers on the basis of Grodno Azot. The investment will amount to USD 1.1 billion. Currently, they are looking for investors who would provide a long-term tied loan to implement this project.
According to Semashko, many foreign investors have shown interest in Grodno Azot, negotiations are underway, but there have been no decisions yet. Therefore, the modernization at Grodno Azot continues, but it lacks investors or partners, said First Deputy Prime Minister.
Other investment projects include the construction of a third refinery on the basis of a state-owned enterprise \"Novopolotsk plant of protein and vitamin concentrates.\" The project investor is a private Belarusian oil trader LTD \"Interservice\" (the company was founded by an influential businessman, Nicholai Vorobei). The expected capacity of the new oil and hydrocarbon materials refinery is about 1.5 million tons per year. The cost of the investment project is $ 270 million; it is due to be implemented by January 1, 2021.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.