Inflated asset prices are the main reason behind the privatization auctions’ failure
To fulfill the ACF requirements Belarus has to raise USD 2.5 billion in foreign direct investment by selling state assets. As a rule, only enterprises in a bad financial condition or with numerous restrictions or those overpriced are auctioned. In these circumstances, it is difficult to count on massive inflows of direct investment.
On November 2nd, 2012 state-owned shares in MTS (mobile operator) were presented for sale.
The government has been trying to sell its stake in MTS for over a year. Out of forty-five invitations, only two counterparts replied. Moreover, one of the potential investors already has experience in Belarusian, but its financial performance could have been better. MTS’s parent company is interested in buying the stakes however it considers the announced asset’s price inflated (at least by two times in the primary potential buyer’s view).
An auction, scheduled for mid-December 2012 to sell “Negorely wax processing and hive plant”, demonstrates another extreme side of the Belarusian privatization policy. This venture, with poor performance and depreciated fixed assets is put on sale on terms of preservation of its structure and the number of staff in the following 5 years. This is an attempt to burden an investor with enterprises that the state is unable to cope with on its own.
As a logical consequence of such a privatization policy, the state privatization auctions are all the time either cancelled, or postponed. At the same time, mergers and acquisitions take place in Belarus. As a rule, assets are purchased by private companies interested in expanding their activities. Some private businesses enjoy favourable sales terms for some state assets.
Thus, the Belarusian authorities continue demonstrating a negative attitude to any capital other than from business circles close the government.
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.