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).
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.