“Wait to sell”: what Putin said at a closed meeting with business

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, March 24, called for the Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and entrepreneurs, and then met with the biggest business behind closed doors. In the open part, Putin praised the business for a more “responsible and Mature” work, assured that the government is thinking about how to reduce the fiscal burden, and supported the mitigation of criminal law for entrepreneurs. Behind closed doors, the President spoke mainly about geopolitics, not about the economy, told participants of the meeting.

On the closed part of the meeting with Putin raised the question of the fate of assets of Russian businessmen in Ukraine, spoke three participants of the event. One of the businessmen asked the President a question about whether or not now sell Ukrainian assets, given the difficult relations between Moscow and Kiev. Who exactly asked a question, interviewees did not specify. The meeting was held behind closed doors and lasted about an hour.

Question about whether to sell assets in Ukraine and expect that the situation will change for the better, retells one of the participants. In response, Putin “said that while there is hope for normalization of relations, you can wait”. But that was not the indication from the President, but only his assessment: “Each person must decide for themselves, based on the situation,” says the source . “He [Putin] also said that there [in Ukraine] in the financial and banking sector pressure felt — one situation, and in the industrial asset may be different. But nevertheless, his assessment was: “to Suffer, to understand how the events develop”, — says the participant of the meeting.

According to another source , Putin encouraged Russian businessmen to sell Ukrainian assets. The President made it clear that the government there may change, but business and Ukraine will remain, retells the content of the discussion is a businessman.

Another participant interprets the message of the President: “they have to make a decision.”

What does the Russian business in Ukraine

According to the CBR, as of 1 October 2015, the balances of direct investment from Russia into the Ukrainian economy amounted to $2,17 billion, including $1.48 billion participation in the capital of companies and $691 million in debt. In comparison with the beginning of 2014 the General index dropped by 2.8 times (from almost $6 billion).

In Ukraine, Russian companies remain major assets. State-owned Rosneft owns the Lisichanskiy refinery in the Luhansk region, and 141 stations. In January 2016, the Ukrainian media reported that Rosneft plans to sell refills of the Swiss Energy Glusco, but the deal has not yet been conducted. LUKOIL in August 2014 sold a network of 238 stations, but the company is still owned by the Ukrainian petrochemical company “Karpatneftekhim”.

UC Rusal Oleg Deripaska speaks on Ukraine Nikolaev alumina refinery. Until 2015 the company belonged to the Zaporozhye aluminium combine, but the asset was nationalized by the authorities of Ukraine. “Mechel” Igor Zyuzin has partially preserved the Donetsk electrometallurgical plant. But Evraz of Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov Donetsk metallurgical plant named after Petrovsky (steel production), “Bagleykoks” (metallurgical coke production) and “Sukha Balka” (iron ore).

VimpelCom, controlled by the structure Mikhail Fridman and his partners LetterOne, owns the largest Ukrainian mobile operator “Kyivstar”. The second largest operator — “MTS Ukraine”, owned by the MTS group.

In the banking sector are Sberbank of Ukraine and subsidiary Bank of Vnesheconombank and Prominvestbank. There are also some smaller investments: for example, investment company A1 owns 24% oil & gas Regal Petroleum, and Moscow Proxima Capital Group — 20% oil & gas JKX Oil & Gas, associated with the Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

In addition, retells one of the participants of the meeting, Putin spoke about relations with the United States. The President said that, in his opinion, further strengthening of confrontation is not to be expected and gradually relations with the United States will improve. According to the source , Putin spoke about the weakening of Petro Poroshenko in the Minsk agreements, which the Ukrainian President is unable to perform fully. Thus, according to the source, Putin did not predict the timing of normalization of relations with the US and the probability of lifting sanctions.

Businessmen were interested in Russia’s position on the conflict in Syria. Putin as telling the meeting, said that Russia decided to halt its military operations in Syria, because “the situation there is stabilized”.

After meeting with businessmen Vladimir Putin has gone on meeting with U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry, who arrived in Moscow with a third in the last year visit.