Privatization in favour of local investors is gaining momentum
Privatization in favour of local investors is gaining momentum in Belarus. For instance, in the first ten days of July shares in the following companies have been sold:
- Shares in “Baranovichigazstroy” have been acquired by a private equity Belarusian unitary enterprise “AnvoyInvest” at an auction. The investor has bought 80.7% of the capital shares of the enterprise for Br 1 billion 98 million;
- Stakes in the JSC “Promstroysistema” (75.4% of the statutory capital) have been sold for Br 168.6 million rubles to “Sog Story” ltd;
- Shares of the JSC “Borisov repair and mechanical plant” (42.1% of the statutory capital) have been acquired for Br 2.8 billion by the JSC “ATEP-5”;
- 15.4% of the statutory capital of the JSC “Lesohimik” (Borisov) has been bought for Br 3.705 billion by the JSC “Polesezhilstroy”;
- 42.1% of the statutory capital of the JSC “Borisov repair-mechanical plant” has been bought for Br 2 billion 800 million also by the JSC “ATEP—5”;
- 1.8% of the statutory capital of the JSC “Baranovichi Shoe Factory” has been bought by a Russian investor.
Sale auctions concerning “Pukhovichi Experimental Plant”, “Slonim car repair factory”, “Special vehicles”, “TransMozyr”, “Polymer” and “Bobruisk shoe factory” did not take place due to the lack of bids from potential buyers.
Privatization of municipal property is gaining momentum on the ground (small-scale providers of services).
Since the beginning of the year (and in fact in June-July) local investors have bought shares of 10 local enterprises. It seems the authorities thereby try to compensate for the lack of “large-scale” privatization. All these transactions have a lot in common:
1) all auctioned companies are small;
2) as a rule, there was no competition;
3) takes bought by a local investor;
4) the sale price was only slightly bigger than the initial price (book value of about 5-10%);
5) whether an enterprise provokes interest of some profile investor, the amount of stake put on sale is under 50%.
The sale of enterprises raises the revenues of the republican and local budgets in particular and shows the willingness of the government to continue with its ambitious three-year long privatization programme. However, judging upon the carried out transactions it would be too premature to talk about the beginning of a mass-scale privatization and about active participation of foreign investors in it. It is linked to the unwillingness of President Lukashenko to privatize large property in particular in favour of foreign capital (the State Committee on Investment has no authority over privatization of large enterprises).
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.