The Russian government is discussing the sale of 10.9% of shares in diamond miner Alrosa in the course of its privatization program in 2016, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed to reporters. Deputy Russian Economic Development Minister Nikolai Podguzov also told reporters that a new round of privatization of Alrosa is possible in 2017-2018 following the sale of 10.9% of the diamond miner's shares this year. Russia, through the Federal Property Agency, owns 43.9% of Alrosa, and Yakutia owns 25% plus one share and does not intend to privatize its stake. Another 8% of shares are held by Yakutia's municipal districts, and they cannot be sold under the region's legislation. The largest federal stake in Alrosa that can be sold with Russia and Yakutia still retaining combined control of the company is 18.9%.
A stake of 18.9% was mentioned in Property Agency head Olga Dergunova's letter to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in which she asked him to issue orders to begin expert discussions as soon as possible on the privatization of a number of assets, including Alrosa shares. However, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev said last week that the government does not intend to reduce the authorities' stake to a controlling interest for the time being. "We are proceeding from the assumption of a small privatization of Alrosa so that the government and Yakutia retain a significantly larger than controlling stake in the company," Moiseyev said, without specifying the size of the stake. Siluanov's statement indicates that, after the planned privatization sale, Russia and Yakutia would retain 8% of shares in Alrosa in excess of a controlling interest. "We talked about the possibility of selling a 10.9% portion of the stake so as to retain control of this company on the part of the state, including the constituent member of the Russian Federation," Siluanov told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 summit.