Russian Technologies is preparing to sell off noncore assets beginning this year, chief executive Sergei Chemezov told Vedomosti, and the state corporation will likely start with property held by AvtoVaz.
"We have an interest in having a clear ownership structure for the state corporation's holdings, allowing them to operate effectively in their core businesses and minimize costs not related to production, which will improve the companies' financial results. Revenue from the sale of noncore assets will go toward financing and developing innovative programs and new, high-tech production," Chemezov said. "In essence, this is our modernization budget."
The state has handed over 443 businesses to Russian Technologies. The holding has calculated that it has more than 40,000 real estate assets, including some 1,500 that are not involved in firms' core business. A source close to Russian Technologies' supervisory board said there was no precise estimate for the noncore assets' value, but that it was between $2 billion and $4 billion.
Assets are considered noncore if they are not involved in or set aside for a company's main business, said Igor Zavyalov, a Russian Technologies deputy chief. "We're also going to reclassify and sell ineffectively used assets, as well as shares, stakes and interests in other companies that belong to the companies but aren't related to their core business," he said.
Lists of noncore assets are being drawn up based on initial lists and analyses of companies' effectiveness, Zavyalov said.
Russian Technologies has created a department for working with noncore assets, headed by VTB's former managing director for construction, Oksana Lut.
"We'll definitely invite independent appraisers and make sure all of the work related to handling the noncore assets is entirely transparent," she said.
Decisions on what to do with the assets — including reclassification, renting or selling them, rebuilding or starting new construction — will be made after the analysis is complete. Decisions will be approved with the companies and holdings that are part of Russian Technologies, Lut said.
As an example, she offered the abundance of unused real estate held by Moskovsky Zavod Sapfir, which is part of the Optical Systems and Technologies holding.
Polina Grishina, AvtoVAZ vice president for corporate management, said the automaker also had many noncore assets, including about 90 real estate properties and roughly 30 stakes in companies. The offers will be made available on Group.avtovaz.ru ahead of auctions and tenders.
The sale will most likely begin in February, said an employee at one of AvtoVAZ's shareholders. The carmaker is planning to earn about 700 million rubles ($23.5 million) from real estate sales in 2010.
The government expected that there would be quite a few noncore assets, a government source said. "It was impossible to hand over the core assets without the noncore assets. There were a lot of federal state unitary enterprises with neglected financial reporting," the source said.
"The state corporation has been working on doing a serious inventory of assets for a year and a half, and it still isn't done," said Anton Danilov-Danilyan, a member of Russian Technologies' strategy committee. "I'm officially announcing that the state corporation did not know exactly what it was being given."
At the strategy committee's last meeting, chaired by Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina, questions were raised about how to use the funds raised from noncore assets, Danilov-Danilyan said. "We reached the conclusion that first we need to clarify the strategy, and only then make use of these resources."
It was initially assumed that the noncore assets would resemble aid for Russian Technologies and that revenue from them should go toward development, said the source close to the corporation's supervisory board.
But Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's press secretary,Dmitry Peskov, said since Russian Technologies is a state corporation, it would be incorrect to compare its revenue from the sale of noncore assets to a gift from the state to a private company.
If a company owes money to the federal budget, it is legally required to use revenue from the sale of noncore assets to first pay wage arrears, taxes and debts to counterparties, and only then to use them for investment, said Yevgeny Semchenko, a court-appointed receiver.
The procedure for selling such a large volume of noncore assets is fairly complicated, he said. It can take years, and Russian Technologies has many federal state unitary enterprises whose real estate is not registered and belongs to them only for management, Semchenko said. Often the state corporation does not have a controlling stake in the companies, which means that it needs other shareholders to make a decision on selling noncore assets, he added.
There is no sense in holding on to noncore assets, so Russian Technologies' decision is a good one, said Yury Koval, a partner at BDO in Russia. "Today the market is no worse than yesterday, and tomorrow it won't be any better than today." The critical phase of the economic crisis has already passed for the real estate market, so it is already possible to make a profit — if not a huge one, said Oleg Repchenko, director of the IRN.ru analytical center. "It's another matter for a state corporation that got all of its assets for free, and for them any income is profit."