A Moscow-led regional fund bailed out Belarus last year when it suffered a financial crisis. The conditions of the bail out included a promise that the former Soviet republic would privatize $2.5 billion a year in state assets, Reuters reports.
In 2011, Minsk sold its gas pipeline network to Russia’s Gazprom as part of the agreement. Plans for this year have not been announced. The country’s major assets are two oil refineries, a segment of the Druzhba oil pipeline and Belaruskali, one of the major foreign currency earners for the state.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is pushing for the privatization of Belaruskali, but questioned the $30 billion price tag laid out by the Belarusian government. He recently met with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich to discuss the issue, according to Reuters.
“(Belaruskali) is a Belarussian company and it is up to Belarussians to decide what to do with it but any deal is interesting only if it is based on a real market approach,” Medvedev said, Reuters reports. “One should consider not just the importance of a certain asset to Belarus but also the real market conditions.”
Russian potash miner Uralkali has shown interest in the purchase of Belaruskali, with which it jointly owns the fertilizer trading firm Belarussian Potash Company. Minsk, though, is only looking to sell a minority stake and values the company at $30-32 billion.
Lukashenko also threatened to scrap the joint venture with Uralkali this week over operational disagreements between himself and the owner of Uralkali, Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, Reuters reports.