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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Uralmash To Auction 5% Stake

Russian heavy machinery group Uralmash will offer 5 percent of its shares to the public in a cash auction from Jan. 6 to Jan. 20, finance manager Yuri Osintsev announced Tuesday.

He said the auction would determine the actual price but expected the shares, with a nominal face value of 500 rubles (15 cents) each, to fetch around 20,000 rubles apiece.

Osintsev, speaking by telephone from the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, said the shares on offer were part of the government's 30 percent stake in Uralmash. He expected the government to sell off a further 15 percent in April or May, possibly to strategic foreign investors.

Uralmash controls more than 95 percent of the Russian market for milling and grinding equipment, and nearly two-thirds of the market in oil-drilling equipment.

It has ties with Caterpillar Inc., the U.S. diesel- and gas-engine maker, with which it has agreed to develop a new drilling rig and produce oil-drilling equipment fitted with U.S. engines.

But industry sources say it has large debts to suppliers. Its equipment is old and its operations are too diversified.

Once trading in Uralmash shares develops, the company will almost certainly rank among Russia's largest in terms of market capitalization, said Sergei Skatershchikov, director of the Skate-Press financial consulting agency. "Uralmash is a dark horse," he said.

Osintsev said the single largest private shareholder in Uralmash is the Moscow-based Bioprocess Group, with a 21.8 percent stake. Bioprocess is one of Russia's first corporate raiders, unheard of before privatization began in 1992. It acquired an initial stake of 18 percent in Uralmash for vouchers worth just $500,000 during a May 1993 sell-off.

Uralmash, which has cut its work force to below 30,000 from more than 50,000 in the early 1980s, was one of the first flagship ex-Soviet enterprises to be privatized.

Skate-Press said Uralmash reported pretax income of $8.78 million on Oct. 1, 1994, down from the equivalent of $9.72 million on Jan. 1, 1994. Skate-Press put Uralmash's total assets at $296 million on Oct. 1, 1994, up from $274.65 million on Jan. 1. ()