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Russia may sell controlling stakes in leading state firms

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the government to consider reducing its holdings to below a controlling stake in some of the state's leading companies, as part of its privatization drive, Vedomosti business daily quoted government sources as saying on Friday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the government to consider reducing its holdings to below a controlling stake in some of the state's leading companies, as part of its privatization drive, Vedomosti business daily quoted government sources as saying on Friday.

The list of companies includes the country's second largest bank VTB, oil major Rosneft, key lender to agriculture Russian Agricultural Bank, and top hydro power generator RusHydro, Vedomosti said.

Last autumn the government approved a three-year $59 billion privatization program, in which the state was to reduce its holding in several state-run companies to a controlling stake. The sales were kicked off this winter with the sale of a 10 percent in VTB for 95 billion rubles ($3.4 billion).

Alexei Uvarov, head of a department at the Economic Development Ministry, said Medvedev's order was in the form of a letter from his economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich, who said the move would to be good for the country's investment climate. The letter ended with Medvedev's order "You must act in a more resolute way!"

A Kremlin official said there should be an answer justifying why should the government be present in these companies and did not rule out that the government could sell its entire stakes in VTB and Rosneft.

He added, however, that the idea of speeding up privatization was only being considered and no final decision had been made.

 

MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti)

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