Russia wants Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkadiy Dvorkovich and his Belarusian counterpart Uladzimir Siamashka came to an essential agreement on acquiring a control block of shares of OJSC Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant “Volat”during their meeteng in March, 2013, Russian newspaper Izvestia reports.

The alleged bargain seems insane: the enterprise is one of the most commercially viable and high-technology companies in the country. It produces both defense and civil equipment, e.g. running gears, cranes, wheeled tractors, Russia being a core customer.

Money talks

The negotiations have been picking up after Russia started renewing its military sector. As our eastern neighbour needs running gears made by MWTP it is much more profitable to be in possession of this very plant.

According to Izvestia, a purchaser’s candidature remains the only controversial issue. Being unwilling to part with the paying enterprise the Belarusian side might well be buying time. “Perspective investors belong to various groups of oligarchs. For example, Dvorkovich is a representative of a liberal flow while KAMAZ and Ural Carriage Plant are under control of “the old clan”. That is why the Belarusian authorities are awaiting a signal from the Kremlin,” economist Aliaksandr Sinkevich believes.

Bad move

Selling “Volat” would be a disadvantagous deal for Belarus. But the regime cannot choose but agree to all the condiions laid down by Moscow if the state figures on receiving another tranche of EurAsEC loan.

The money from the sale could be spent on reforming the Belarusian economy and the transition from central planning to a market economy buth the authorities have not sounded suchlike plans. “Unfortunately, we are likely to suffer losses after the sale because the company is yielding profits to the country. Of course, it costs a great sum of money but we will eat it away very soon,” the expert explains.

There is something in selling marginal enterprises which Belarusian investors failed to modernize. But taking key industrial flagship off the hands leads to the country’s increasing dependence.

“We might well get paid peanuts for transit, our workers might be paid regularly but after selling large-scale plants only our territory will remain there to make a market of,” Mr Sinkevich said.