Renaissance Expands Into Belarus Before State Asset Sales Start

By Jason Corcoran

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Renaissance Capital, the Russian investment bank half-owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, opened an office in Minsk today as Belarus prepares to sell assets to comply with the terms of an emergency IMF loan.

"We are currently looking at a number of mergers and acquisitions opportunities, at Belarusian companies looking to tap into the international capital markets as well as the potential impact of future privatizations," said Peter Vanhecke, head of Moscow-based RenCap's investment banking business in Ukraine and central and eastern Europe.

Belarus was forced to borrow $2.23 billion from the International Monetary Fund this year to meet spending commitments after export revenue tumbled. The former Soviet republic has been run by Aleksandr Lukashenko, once a collective farm boss, since 1994.

RenCap said its Minsk office is the first in Belarus of a "major investment bank." Galt & Taggart Securities, a unit of Tbilisi-based Bank of Georgia, opened an office last year to organize funding for Belarusian companies.

"We are the first international investment bank to have operations on the ground in Belarus and we feel that this puts us in a strong position to become the advisor of choice for both local public and private entities as well a foreign investors," Vanhecke said.


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