The Kremlin has announced plans to unwind around $30 billion worth of its stakes in Russian businesses in order to plug its budget deficit. Good news, you would think, for those who have campaigned against the government’s stranglehold on so-called “strategic industries” in the country. Also good news, potentially, for investors.
Reaction to the news, however, has stopped short of elation. Some are already posing the perennial question, “Should we beware of Russians bearing gifts?”
It is worth noting that the divestment of $30 billion, while a hefty sum in absolute terms, is tiny compared to the total holdings of the state, and even smaller when compared with assets held privately by those in government. After the sale has been completed, the government still intends to retain at least a 51 per cent stake in