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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Post-Voucher Investment Fall Predicted

Privatization officials Tuesday sought to temper expectations of an investment boom during post-voucher privatization, saying that recent market studies show that Russians are more interested in high-risk securities and real estate than industrial enterprises.

"While vouchers were valid, we had a guaranteed demand for shares because people had been provided the means to buy shares," Pyotr Mostovoi, deputy privatization minister, told a press conference. "Now we can confidently predict that demand will drop to a fraction of what it used to be."

Officials said that Russian investors will spend $1.5 billion to $2 billion on shares in formerly state-owned enterprises during the entire second stage of privatization, about 40 percent of what they are prepared to spend on real estate and securities that bring in big returns.

Privatization chief Anatoly Chubais had previously predicted that Russian investment in post-voucher privatization would be about $1 billion in 1994 alone, while foreign investment would be between $1 billion and $10 billion.

"Now shares have to compete in the securities markets," said Federal Property Fund chief Vladimir Sokolov. "And they'll meet with tough competition from Marina Sergeyevna," he added, referring to a working-class woman in the advertisements of controversial investment firm MMM who gets rich buying the company's stock. MMM, widely believed to be a pyramid scheme, stopped redeeming its shares at all of its Moscow offices Tuesday.

The officials did not predict the amount of foreign investment that the privatization plan, enacted by President Boris Yeltsin's decree last week after being voted down in the State Duma, was likely to attract.

But Dmitry Vasilyev, deputy chairman of the State Property Committee, said that the program, which Yeltsin put into effect despite objections from hardline legislators in the State Duma, was revolutionary enough to give ailing factories chances to develop other than direct investment.

The program allows the sale of land on which factories are built, which Mostovoi said could become a major source of revenues for factories.

"The privatization of land is the beginning of a new stage for the Russian economy," he said. "Now factories can mortgage the land or sell the extra land they have and use the money for restructuring."

Vasilyev said a typical Russian factory occupies an area six to 10 times greater than a comparable enterprise in the West. He said that the privatization of the land could cause smaller, more efficient enterprises to spring up in place of the cumbersome Soviet-style factories.

Furthermore, he said, the land sell-offs will make companies less vulnerable to local authorities, who previously wielded enormous power over companies that were only allowed to rent the land under their buildings.

"Land privatization will stop the extortion of high rent PRI