ROMANIA-RUSSIA VTB Capital, interested in the privatization of CFR Marfă

. (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 4 aprilie 2012

VTB, the second largest state owned bank in Russia, wants to invest "a few hundred million Euros" in the Balkan region in the coming years, and its objectives include the privatization of CFR Marfă, Atanas Bostandjiev, the CEO of VTB Capital, the investment division of the Russian group, recently said.

Atanas Bostandjiev said: "I will be happy if we invest a few hundred million Euros in the coming years in various projects in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Greece, directly as a bank or by supporting our customers. There are good opportunities in energy, transports, telecommunications and agriculture. We will review the privatizations being planned in Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. We are interested in the privatization of the Romanian freight railway company. Serbia is preparing privatizations in the banking sector which we are interested in. There are similar plans in Slovenia and Croatia".

Mihai Macsim, the general manager of The Romanian-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIRR), recently said, in an interview, that there are Russian investors interested in Romania's railroad infrastructure: "Russian investors are looking to buy < CFR Marfă > Romania or at least to rent their cars, since they have a shortage of freight cars. In the past, we used to build train cars in Balş and Arad for them".

VTB Capital recently opened an office in Sofia to facilitate its expansion in South Eastern Europe, in an attempt to cover the vacuum which remained after the withdrawal of foreign investors from the region due to the sovereign debt crisis.

VTB Capital has branches in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, New York, Vienna and Kyiv.

In autumn last year, VTB Capital, through the Austrian division BT Invest, acquired a stake of 80% in Bulgartabak, the largest Bulgarian cigarette maker, in exchange for 100 million Euros.

The government in Sofia is also getting ready to sell the stakes it owns in several utility companies, in order to obtain the necessary funds to cover the service of its public debt.

VTB is also interested in acquiring Vivacom, the largest landline telephony operator in Bulgaria, in association with the Bulgarian bank Corporate Commercial Bank. The former Bulgarian Finance minister Milen Velchev has been appointed as general manager of the branch which VTB Capital has in Sofia.

In December, the Government and the IMF have agreed to have CFR Marfă to be sold to a strategic investor, in a process which would be concluded by the end of October this year and which would involve the EBRD and the International Finance Corporation, the investment division of the World Bank.

The government will publish the prospectus for the sale of the stock by mid June 2012 and will conclude the privatization by the end of October 2012, according to data announced in December.

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