28 Dec 2021 16:26

Central Bank could sell Otkritie in IPO or to strategic investor, there is interest

MOSCOW. Dec 28 (Interfax) - The Central Bank of Russia could sell Bank FC Otktirie in an IPO or to a strategic investor, the head of Otkritie, Mikhail Zadornov, told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

"We are working with our shareholder, the Central Bank, on both options. There is interest, we opened a database in the autumn, and we worked with strategic investors. And this interest in Otkritie is of course being maintained. At the same time we are making thorough preparations for the possible sale of Otkritie on the market, via an IPO. We did hold a number of [online] meetings in November, with around 20 potential investors, foreign and Russian. And although those meetings coincided with the famous Russia-Ukraine topic and general downturn in the geopolitical situation, investors said following the meetings that they were seriously interested in the privatization of Otkritie. They asked a lot of very specific questions and even, which is a rarity, about the possible price, about possible quotes, and interest was generally high," Zadornov said.

He said the Central Bank would reach a decision on the mode of sale after New Year. "But of course the Central Bank is interested not just in privatizing it but also in a good price for the asset," he said.

An IPO is still one of the main scenarios for the sale of shares in Otkritie, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullin said in October. "The Central Bank has owned Otkritie since 2017. The regulator said in July 2019 that financial recovery measures had been completed at the bank and the CBR's plans include selling some of Otkritie's shares," she said.

The CBR began preparations to sell Otkritie in organized trading in early August. At the same time, the regulator said it that in order to gauge interest among strategic investors, it would accept expressions of interest to take part in the sales processes between October 11 and 22. The CBR expected to sell at least 50% plus one share to a strategic investor. If there is interest, trading might take place before the end of 2021.

Zadornov said at the start of June that the CBR might sell 15%-20% of the bank in an IPO in 2022. "We and our shareholder are moving along this track that we planned some time ago. We plan to take the first step toward privatizing the group in the middle of next year. We already have a fairly specific plan," Zadornov said at the time.