Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank could IPO in first half of 2007

LONDON, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's retail savings bank Sberbank, foreign trade bank Vneshtorgbank (VTB) and Gazprombank could hold an initial public offering in the first half of 2007, a senior official of Sberbank said Tuesday.

Bella Zlatkis, Sberbank deputy board chairwoman, said the IPO of Russian banks with state stakes will be a major event in the first half of 2007.

Sberbank, Vneshtorgbank and Gazprombank, which is a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, will hold IPOs both in the country and abroad, Zlatkis told a Russian banking forum in London.

Sberbank will be able to place its securities on the bourse already in the first quarter of 2007 along with Vneshtorgbank, Zlatkis said.

Zlatkis said Sberbank will offer its stock at 65,000 rubles ($2,500) per share.

"The main question will center on who will be able to comply with the regulator's requirements," Zlatkis said.

Zlatkis said the procedure for investors to buy the stock of companies in the banking sector was more complex than in other sectors. Non-residents have to apply with the Central Bank of Russia for special authorization and wait 30 days, while Russian investors have to prove that their revenues are in excess of expenditures and that they will not seek loans, Zlatkis said.

Zlatkis expressed the hope that by the end of the year, the lower house of Russia's parliament will pass in the second reading a bill on changes to banking legislation to facilitate the stock purchase procedure for investors.

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