Renaissance opens rep office Belarus before state sell-off

By Marcus Williams

Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital today announced it was opening a representative office in Belarus in anticipation of a state-sponsored sell-off of assets by the former Soviet state.

The office will be led by Sergey Levin, who joins the firm as chairman of Renaissance Capital in Belarus, and will be based in Minsk. The office will staffed locally and supported by Renaissance Capital's investment banking hub in Kiev.

Levin is a Belarusian national with experience in the Belarusian private and public economy. Levin's immediate prior position was managing director of Lebortovo Capital Partners, a Belarus-based private equity house.

The Belarusian State Property Committee published a list on November 25 of seven government owned companies that it planned to sell to help meet commitments to the World Bank and IMF.

The list includes confectionery maker OAO Krasny Mozyryanin, manufacturers OAO Belfa and OAO Kupalinka, chemicals company Barkhim, OAO Rechitsa Textile and two engineering plants.

BG Capital, the investment unit of Bank of Georgia, opened an office in Minsk last year. VTB and Unicredit had operations in the country too but Rencap is believed to be the first heavyweight investment bank to set up on the ground.

Mark Pursey, director in Belarus of Grayling, the international financial communications and investor relations company which opened an office in Belarus earlier this year, said the entry of Rencap into the market was a sign of how seriously international investors are taking the forthcoming government privatization programme.

He said: "Renaissance's track record, geographically in terms of the CIS and also in terms of regional M&A - trade sale disposals is where we view practically all the early privatizations - should provide them with some leverage through 2010 and the early-stage asset sales."


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