March 26, 2023

DealBook: Sberbank of Russia Starts $5.1 Billion Share Sale

The Moscow headquarters of the Russia's largest bank, Sberbank.Sergei Chirikov/European Pressphoto AgencyThe Moscow headquarters of the Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank.

LONDON — The Russian government announced on Monday that it would sell a 7.6 percent stake in the country’s largest lender, Sberbank, in a rights offering that could raise around $5.1 billion.

The move would be one of Russia’s largest share sales in recent years as the government aims to reduce its stakes in a number of the country’s largest companies.

Investors have long awaited the announcement of Sberbank’s rights offering, which had been hampered by volatility in global financial markets and the recent depressed performance of Russian stocks.

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Under the terms of the deal, the Russian central bank said it would sell up to 1.71 billion shares in Sberbank, and had set the price range of between 91 rubles, or $2.99, and the firm’s market price when the offering closes, according to a joint statement from Russian authorities and the bank.

At the lower end of the range, Sberbank would raise around $5.1 billion. In early afternoon trading in Moscow, the bank’s share price had fallen 1.1 percent, to 95.99 rubles.

The rights offering, which is expected to close this week, will reduce the Russian government’s holding in Sberbank to just over 50 percent. Authorities also raised around $3.3 billion by selling a 10 percent stake in another Russian bank, VTB Group, last year.

The share sale will take place in Moscow and London, with 10 percent of the rights to be offered to domestic investors and the remaining 90 percent holding offered to international clients, Sberbank said.

As part of the deal, the Russian lender said it might buy back stock worth up to 20 billion rubles at the same price as other investors.

‘‘The offerings represent an opportunity for us to further diversify Sberbank’s investor base and secure an international stock exchange listing,’’ Sberbank’s chief executive, Herman Gref, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the Russian bank agreed to buy the Turkish lender DenizBank for around $3.5 billion as part of an expansion outside its home market.

Sberbank also has bought Volksbank International, a subsidiary of the Austrian lender Oesterreichische Volksbanken, for 505 million euros, $661 million.

Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Troika Dialog, a Sberbank subsidiary, are coordinating the rights offering.

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