An agreement has been reached for the sale of a stake in Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant (MZKT) to a “Russian investor” in 2014.
First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka announced it on Tuesday, speaking at a government meeting in Minsk.
According to the Council of Ministers press office, Mr. Syamashka noted that the funds from the sale would be used for the modernization of the company’s production facilities.
Mr. Syamashka also said that the MZKT and the Russian investor would cooperate to launch a new line-up of products and jointly develop new-generation hydromechanical transmissions, which he said would be financed with funds from the Union State budget.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on December 6 that he was opposed to selling the MZKT (missile vehicle manufacturer) to a “foreign investor.”
It is necessary to thoroughly consider the need for such a step, the Belarusian leader said while presenting the 2012 State Prize in the Science and Technology category to three MZKT engineers who had developed “fourth-generation” tractors and chassis and put them into production.
"We have really done very much for this plant and I would like it to prosper," Mr. Lukashenka said during the ceremony, according to the government' news agency BelTA. "But I am surprised that the company's managers, or the government, are eager to sell the plant. I am certainly strongly opposed to this."
Mr. Lukashenka asked the three prize winners – Andrey Halavach, Yury Nikalayew and Yawhen Harko – whether the MZKT would fall behind global competitors if it was not sold to a foreign investor, and whether Russia and China, for whom the company builds vehicles for transporting nuclear warheads and missiles, would not need the manufacturer's products any longer. "If we do not fall behind, then we should not sell the plant. We should sell the products you manufacture and they appear to be of good quality," he noted.
The company's staff should seriously contemplate the issue because it would be wrong to think that employees’ only function is to create products and it is none of their business “who will sell or privatize,” Mr. Lukashenka noted. "The worker collective should be the first to decide whether to sell part of the plant or the entire plant or not to sell it at all,” he said. “The president is the last to append his signature."
This past summer Russia's RBK-Daily reported with reference to Sergei Chemezov, director general of Rostec, a state-owned industrial and defense conglomerate formerly known as Russian Technologies, that Belarus' State Property Committee had proposed that Rostec should buy 75 percent minus one share of the MZKT.
Rostec reportedly would like to acquire control of the MZKT for $31 million, but Belarus wanted it to pay four times the amount.
According to the RBK-Daily, Rostec’s trump card in the talks was the fact that it owned 49.9 percent of KamAZ, which planned to start manufacturing military trucks similar to those built by the MZKT in 2016.
In particular, the MZKT manufactures missile vehicles (transporter erector launchers), including the 8-axle MZKT-79221 for the Topol-M missile and vehicles used to transport Tor and other surface-to-air missile systems, Iskander ballistic missiles, and radars for the S-300 missile system. Ninety percent of the company’s output is exported to Russia.