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Bill on Vneshtorgbank sale to govt almost ready

18 May 2002

The bill calling for the sale of the Central Bank`s stake in Vneshtorgbank (VTB) to the government will be ready in a few days, Central Bank chairman Sergei Ignatyev said on Friday.

The details of the bill are now being discussed, and work on it will be completed in a few days, Ignatyev told reporters. "I think the Vneshtorgbank shares will be transferred to the government this year already," he said

He said that the Central Bank`s 99.9% stake in VTB would first be sold to the government, and then foreign investors will take equity stakes. Ignatyev confirmed that negotiations are underway with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. However, "that similar negotiations are being conducted with the International Finance Corporation, I found out from the newspapers," he said.

The bill will be of a technical nature and set out the procedure for the government`s payment for the VTB shares, Ignatyev said. "I don`t expect that there will be any detailing in it," he said

Ignatyev confirmed that the VTB stake will be paid for with government bonds. "The issue of the interest rate and their duration is now being discussed."  He also said that "the sooner the bank`s shares are transferred to the government the better."

The government will probably remain a shareholder of VTB for "several years," Ignatyev added.  Speaking about VTB`s operations, Ignatyev said that the bank had a successful year in 2001. "I don`t have any serious criticisms of the bank`s work.

It has positive results and deservedly holds a placeong the country`s best banks," he said.

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