December 30, 2016 / 3:33 PM / 7 months ago

Russia's Sberbank plans to advise on Sovcomflot privatization

Igor Bulantsev, Sberbank Senior Vice-President, Acting Head of Sberbank CIB, looks on during an interview with Reuters in his office in Moscow, Russia, December 28, 2016. Picture taken December 28, 2016.Katya Golubkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Sberbank (SBER.MM), Russia's biggest bank by assets, plans to be an adviser on the privatization of state shipping firm Sovcomflot next year, the bank's senior vice-president Igor Bulantsev told Reuters.

The government, which is counting on privatizations to fill state coffers after the slide in oil prices and the impact of Western sanctions over Ukraine, has already chosen VTB Capital as agent for the sale of a 25 percent stake in Sovcomflot.

Bankers said other lenders were likely to join the team working on the privatization of the company, whose vessels support offshore oil and gas operations in Russia.

"Sberbank CIB plans to take part in the Sovcomflot privatization deal," said Bulantsev, who is also the acting head of Sberbank CIB, the lender's investment banking division.

Two sources close to the deal told Reuters earlier that the 25 percent stake going on sale may be split equally between existing and new shares.

Sberbank CIB's main domestic rival for banking fees is VTB Capital, part the country's second biggest lender VTB.

Logos of Sberbank are seen on automated teller machines (ATM) at its branch in Moscow, Russia, June 10, 2016.Maxim Shemetov

Since sanctions were imposed in 2014, Sberbank and VTB, along with a number of smaller Russian lenders, have become almost the only players running large deals in a market that was once very lucrative for foreign banks.

Many major U.S. and European players have either left Russia or kept a low profile since the sanctions came in and Bulantsev said had not yet seen any significant increase in competition for deals from Western banks.

"I think that we will see more competition from Russian banks, private and state ones," said Bulantsev, who joined Sberbank from Nordic bank Nordea (NDA.ST) this year.

Bulantsev also said a couple of initial public offering (IPO) deals were being prepared for next year, which he expects to be more active in terms of capital markets than 2016.

"We have a good pipeline (of deals) ... interest toward Russia, the market, is coming to life, so for many companies windows will be opening," Bulantsev said.

En+ Group, a holding company for Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska's assets, is considering an IPO in 2017, two banking sources and one industry source said this month.

Bulantsev declined to comment on specific deals but said that he expected "significantly more deals than in 2016" with some coming in the first half of the year.

Writing by Katya Golubkova; editing by David Clarke

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