MOSCOW State-controlled Russian companies should keep paying at least half of their annual profit in dividends in 2017-2019, news agencies quoted finance minister Anton Siluanov as saying on Saturday.
Russia raised the dividend payout ratio for state companies to 50 percent of profit this year from a previous 25 percent to bolster budget revenues hit by lower oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.
"This encourages companies to pursue their activities more effectively and yet shareholders should also benefit from the ownership of these shares," Interfax news agency quoted Siluanov as saying.
Siluanov was also quoted as saying the state budget may receive up to 1.5 trillion roubles ($22.6 billion) in 2016-2017 from the sale of stakes in oil giant Rosneft, mid-size oil producer Bashneft, diamond producer Alrosa and possibly VTB bank, Russia's No.2 lender.
The rule on dividends should be mandatory for state companies and should not allow any exceptions, Siluanov reportedly added.
Rosneftegaz is currently excluded from the rule, Interfax quoted a source familiar with situation as saying.
Russian state companies often calculate profit under both domestic and international accounting standards, but until now have often paid dividends based on lower profit numbers under domestic standards.
Siluanov's deputy, Alexei Moiseev, was quoted as saying state companies should use the higher of the two numbers when calculating their 2015 dividends.
($1 = 66.4125 roubles)
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Lidia Kelly and Polina Devitt; Editing by Mark Potter)
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