It is no secret that many multinational companies avoid Belarus because of the unfavourable reputation of the country’s authorities and western sanctions against them. But this, apparently, does not apply to the hotel business. Several big name hotel brands are springing up around the capital, Minsk. Continue reading »
Belarus wants to join the World Trade Organization. And it wants to do so as soon as possible. However, it is no secret that the main hurdle on the way to this goal is the country’s strained relationship with the US and the EU, which have heavily criticised the Belarusian government for its authoritarian behaviour.
But Belarusian officials are in an optimistic frame of mind, saying the western nations are ready to give a green light. Continue reading »
We need more than that
Belarus is in a tight spot. The country has reached a peak in foreign government debt repayments and it needs $3.1bn to repay its earlier loans and sovereign eurobonds. This is a substantial amount of cash, taking into account that as of April 1, the country’s international reserve assets stood at just $8.1bn.
So what are the options? Continue reading »
Russian Alfa Bank, controlled by billionaire Mikhail Fridman, announced on Monday that its Belarusian subsidiary, Alfa Bank (Belarus), will acquire Belrosbank from Russian Rosbank, controlled by Société Générale. The move followed by failed negotiations with the Belarusian authorities to buy state-owned Belinvestbank.
The transaction is expected to be completed before the end of 2012, Alfa Bank said in a statement, but the bank did not disclose the price of the deal. Continue reading »
The influence of Russia in Belarus’ banking sector is easily spotted. All of Russia’s major banks have subsidiaries in the country and provide them with support.
Russian finance could be set to increase further: Alfa Bank, controlled by billionaire Mikhail Fridman (pictured), is discussing the possible acquisition of another Belarusian lender. But the target, although rumoured, is still unconfirmed. Continue reading »
In most cases joining the World Trade Organisation does an economy good, opening a country to expanded international trade, but in Belarus’s case it has the potential of causing enormous trouble in an economy already under strain.
And Belarus hasn’t even joined the WTO. It’s Russia’s recent accession that could cause economic ructions, given Belarus’s dependence on its big neighbour and its membership of the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union. Continue reading »
To put it mildly, Belarusian companies are not in favour in the EU and the US. Thanks to the authoritarian nature of the government, which has a habit of arresting opposition activists, leading regime supporters and officials hit with western economic sanctions.
So it may make sense for one of the country’s largest companies, potash producer Belaruskali, and its Russian counterpart, Uralkali, to route its exports through a new joint venture trading company in Switzerland. Continue reading »
Alexander Lukashenko wants average salaries in Belarus to go up – and what the authoritarian leader wants, he usually gets, which is likely to mean more trouble for the ex-Soviet republic’s battered economy.
“What is the average salary of $500? This is quite a low level – we should get higher. And this is a task for everybody,” Lukashenko told local officials this week, according to the local press. Continue reading »
Gazprom is tightening its grip on Europe’s gas pipelines. After opening the new Baltic Sea link to Germany earlier this month, the Russian state-controlled group has announced it’s taking total control of the Belarus pipeline that runs from Russia to the European Union.
Gazprom is lifting its stake in Beltransgaz to 100 per cent by buying the cash-strapped Belarus state’s 50 per cent for $2.5bn – following years of bitter arguments with Minsk. It’s a triumph for Gazprom and Russia. However, it’s a mixed blessing for the EU: Russia/Belarus disputes may end, but only at the price of greater dependence on Russia. Continue reading »
The prospect of a $30bn privatisation in Europe should have investment bankers drooling. But the reaction to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s announcement on Friday of plans to sell a stake in potash miner Belaruskali has been received with a less-than-ecstatic welcome.
Potential buyers will be put off by the lack of any deadline for the proposed deal and by Minsk restricting the offer to a minority interest only. Would-be purchasers would have the doubtful pleasure of working with the Belarus state as majority partner. Continue reading »
The tottering eurozone may be looking for help from cash-rich emerging markets, but the first country to get a taste of Bric largesse is Belarus, with the ex-Soviet republic getting a $1bn loan from China, according to Belta, the state news agency.
The money prompted Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s authoritarian president, to issue effusive thanks to Wu Bangguo, one of China’s top legislators, who is visiting Minsk, praising China’s “colossal financial and moral” support. Continue reading »
Is Belarus a better punt than Greece?
China seems to think so. Just days after Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, called on debt-laden European countries to put their “own houses in order” before asking China for a bail-out, Belarus finds itself on the receiving end of a very generous $1bn loan from China over the weekend. Continue reading »
The cash-strapped Belarusian’s government’s decision to stop supporting its currency later this month could see the rouble fall by as much as 50 per cent against the US dollar, according to Moody’s, the rating agency.
With the country already digesting a 35 per cent drop in May, import costs are soaring and forcing Belarusians to tighten their belts. But the move could help Belarus eventually secure renewed support from the International Monetary Fund. Continue reading »
Belarus will allow its rouble to float freely from the middle of September, president Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday in a surprise announcement.
But, there is a “but”: the exchange rate for energy payments will stay “preferential” and export-focused companies will have to convert 30 per cent of their revenues back to roubles. Continue reading »
Belarus is going to have an even more difficult time extricating itself from its growing economic morass after a decision by the Royal Bank of Scotland to refrain from helping the country’s authoritarian government with future capital raising efforts.
RBS, which along with Russia’s Sberbank, France’s BNP Paribas and Germany’s Deutsche Bank formed a syndicate that sold a total of $1.85bn in Belarusian government debt last year and this January, had come under fire from human rights groups for helping fund the government at a time when it was cracking down on the opposition. Continue reading »