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BBC: Abramovich plans to buy Belarusian oil and chemistry industry

BBC: Abramovich plans to buy Belarusian oil and chemistry industry

Roman Abramovich’s secret visit to Minsk caused persistent rumors. And the reason for the trip became known in one week: Abramovich came solely on business, and not due to his passion for sports and women, BBC radio Russian service reports.

Abramovich arrived in Minsk on September 25 from London with his private Boeing to spend 3 hours 37 minutes in the Belarusian capital.

A delegation of Russian businessmen headed by “Slavneft” president Yuriy Sukhanov landed in the old airport of Minsk, located nearly in the city center, right after the Boeing.

General Director of “Slavneft” office in Minsk Sergey Shevchenko told “Komsomolskaya Pradva v Belorussii” on Thursday, October 4, that Roman Abramovich had discussed investment opportunities with Lukashenka.

It is unknown yet what scopes of the Belarusian economy are of Abramovich’s interest.

“Abamovich is one of those oligarchs who play the Kremlin’s rules and will defend Russia’s interests in Belarus,” Stanislau Shushkievich says.

Meanwhile, analysts in Minsk point to the confidentiality of the talks.

“Vital economic decisions have been made in a more and more secret way lately,” political analyst Valery Karbalevich emphasized.

“The confidential nature of the official economic deals is indicative of some dark schemes; it means that the authorities try to hide something from public’s eye,” he proceeded, “but the Belarusian enterprises - even though formally - belong to the entire nation, not only to the administration!”

Privatization wave

Nevertheless, the Belarusian state has already lost the control share of Velcom - country’s major mobile operator.

The Cypriot SB Telekom Ltd. became the owner of the company in late August, without the public trade which was promised.

The sum of the deal is kept secret, although the amount can be assumed judging by the fact that 70 percent of the foreign company were bought by Telekom Austria Group for EURO 1.05 bln.

Minsk moto- and bicycle factory became the property of another Austrian company - ATEC Holding GmbH has purchased 93 percent of its shares for $ 7.2 mln. Independent experts claim the purchase unprofitable and again point to the confidentiality of the deal.

“The Belarusian property is now being sold out,” Leanid Zaika, the manager of the analytical center “Strategiya”, says. “There are $ 132 bln of the national property which hasn’t been divided yet among the officials.”

However, Lukashenka has repeatedly emphasized that “we don’t need privatization which could create oligarchs. These are people’s enterprises, even though somebody can dislike it. And they cannot belong to one person.”

“Indeed, I don’t give anything to anyone. But I am ready to sell for a good price. Nobody will give anything for nothing,” Lukashenka has remarked several times.

According to the experts of Global Insight, the Belarusian economy was on the brink of default in early August.

“Instead of a profound economic reorganization the Belarusian authorities have embarked on unofficial sales of state-owned enterprises,” Yaroslav Romachuk, the head of the research center Mizes, said.

According to several analysts, chemical and oil-refining enterprises are to be put up for sale soon. The profitability of these enterprises has reduced from 28 to 1-5 percent within the last 6 months, after Russia imposed the export oil duty.