Archive

Archive for the ‘Investment’ Category
October 12th, 2016

Privatization, Sechin-style

Igor Sechin. Photo by Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

Igor Sechin. Photo by Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

As it often happens in movies, a multi-episode crime thriller entitled Bashneft that began in September 2014 with the arrest of the once-mighty Vladimir Yevtushenkov, head of the Sistema corporation, has ended in a prosaic finale that we had predicted from the very beginning: Bashneft has been expropriated from private owners and is being transferred to the state-run Rosneft. Despite public protests by ministers and even the deputy prime minister of Russia, the all-powerful Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin got what he wanted: Prime Minister Medvedev signed an ordinance providing for the sale of the controlling stake in Bashneft to Sechin’s oil empire for $5 billion — without any tender. This is $300 million above the minimum price that the government was prepared to accept for the privatization of its shares in Bashneft, which prompted Putin to observe that Russia’s deficit-ridden budget is in dire need of this money. The federal budget will now undoubtedly receive it, but this leaves the question of where Rosneft had gotten it from, since almost 70 percent of its own shares belong to the Russian state.

As the result of sanctions imposed by Western countries in response to the annexation of Crimea and the shooting down of the Boeing by a Russian missile, Rosneft is practically unable to borrow on the international capital markets. Consequently, just as with the purchase of assets of the Yukos Oil Company that had been forcibly expropriated from private investors and bankrupted, Sechin went to look for money in the East — and found it there in exchange for oil. The only difference is that Chinese companies got guaranteed oil supplies from Rosneft for a fixed low price for several years in exchange for the billions of dollars used for >> Read more

August 24th, 2016

SHOALING CREEK OF FDI

Picture by loanscanada.ca

Picture by loanscanada.ca

According to the recent statistics provided by the Russian Federal Statistics Service, foreign direct investments (FDI) in Russia have dropped in the first half of 2016 by 4.3% APR. In fact, shallowing of the investment inflow has continued for more than two years. Hunger for superprofits sharks of capitalism perceive the expropriation of Yukos in the mid-2000s as an isolated case, which does not affect the overall investment climate in the country. They continued actively flirting with the Putin’s regime, and only economic sanctions, entered by the Western governments in 2014 in response to the annexation of Crimea and support of separatists in Donbass, have forced transnational corporations to slow down its expansion on the Russian market.

Russia’s overall investment climate quickly turned from positive to negative. Russia was among the top three recipients of FDI with a record US$94 billion in 2013. This precipitously fell to only US$21 billion in 2014 and US$4.8 billion in 2015.

In 2014 just 178 new foreign investment projects worth US$13 billion were launched, compared to 396 projects worth US$23bn in 2011. Russia’s second biggest European investor (after Cyprus), the Netherlands, decreased its investment from US$5.7bn to US$1.23bn in 2014. Even though weak currency usually attracts foreign investors, as ruble weakened, FDI kept collapsing.

Ernst & Young sees the following issues negatively influencing the investment climate: inconsistent and selective law enforcement, non-transparent decision-making procedures, and corruption.

Historically, the main industries for FDI inflows in Russia have been wholesale and retail trade, banking, manufacturing, and the mining sector (mostly extraction of oil and gas). Surprisingly >> Read more

May 25th, 2016

The Privatization of Bashneft: An Exercise in Futility

Photo by Bashneft

Photo by Oil Company “Bashneft”

The Kremlin finally decided to approve the privatization of Russia’s major oil company Bashneft that had belonged to privately-owned AFK Sistema until its shares have recently been literally robbed while its owner Vladimir Yevtushenkov was being held under house arrest. Bashneft shares that used to belong to Yevtushenkov have been returned to the state, and the government now hopes that the sale of Bashneft will bring the much-needed money to replenish the Russian budget. However, the way the Russian authorities are preparing the sale of this valuable oil asset makes one think of yet another shady transaction.

On May 16, President Putin excluded 50 percent plus one share of Bashneft from the list of strategically important companies thus paving the way for the sale of the state’s majority stake. Today, the Russian Federation owns 60.16 percent of Bashneft’s voting shares (or 50.08 percent of its authorized capital). The regional government of the Republic of Bashkortostan, which is a federal subject of the Russian Federation, owns an additional 25.79 percent of the company’s voting shares (or 25 percent of its authorized capital).

The first question that comes to mind: What exactly is being sold? The Russian Federation is currently considering whether to sell a stake of 25, 50 or 75 percent together with the stake of the Republic of Bashkortostan. The regional government of Bashkortostan, however, does not support the idea of selling its stake in the company. The republic expects to at least keep the blocking stake (25 percent plus one share) in >> Read more

March 29th, 2016

The 2014 Sochi Olympics, Two Years On

February 24th, 2016

London Mirror of the Russian Economy

December 8th, 2015

Investment Climate (Russia), oil on canvas

Categories: Economics, Investment Tags:
November 18th, 2015

Unconquered Virgin Lands

Categories: Investment, Uncategorized Tags:
November 11th, 2015

The Kremlin’s Kogan(ate)

Categories: Corruption, Investment Tags:
March 11th, 2015

Untouchable Pensioners: At Whose Expense?

Categories: Investment, Uncategorized Tags:
February 2nd, 2015

Unmanaged Real Estate

Categories: Economics, Investment Tags: