BVB’s Sobolewski: Romania’s privatisations may resume in 2016

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Romania’s privatisation programme may resume this year after a hiatus in 2015, Ludwik Sobolewski CEO of Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) said on Thursday in an interview for Reuters news agency, quoting, with at least one potential flotation in the offing. Sobolewski said the most likely candidate to come to market was salt monopoly Salrom, whilst power producer Hidroelectrica was an outside possibility, although this was more likely to happen in 2017.

“We are waiting for privatisations to be resumed,” he said. “2015 passed without anything notable, but it’s important for Romania to continue with this because we need to have large companies in the market.”

The Romanian government has previously floated gas producer Romgaz and power utilities Electrica and Nuclearelectrica. Last year it identified Bucharest airports and Constanta port as other potential privatisation candidates. Investment fund Fondul Proprietatea, which holds sizeable minority stakes in both Salrom and Hidroelectrica, backs the listings and has grown frustrated by the delay.

Hidroelectrica has been in insolvency for several years due to lengthy legal challenges, but is thought to be close to exiting. Sobolewski put the probability of its listing in 2016 at around 10 percent. “There is a chance they could be listed this year – it’s more likely to happen in 2017. But this would be tremendously important for the market,” he said.

According to BVB’s CEO, Hidroelectrica would be positioned as one of those. “So it is crucial for this process.” Sobolewski also told Reuters that the Bucharest bourse was “quite likely” to join SEE Link, a regional platform for trading securities on bourses in South-East Europe, by the autumn, or even earlier.

“It’s quite likely we will decide to join, and that can happen quite soon,” he said. “These countries have a lot of intellectual capital but lack the scale – this is an attempt to improve the scale.”



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