HATCHED in harsh economic times, Russia’s latest wave of privatisation is off to a mixed start, and a sequel is by no means guaranteed.The sale of a 10.9% stake in Alrosa was the biggest divestment of a state asset since the government reduced its stake in the world’s largest rough-diamond producer three years ago.While plans five years ago called for the state’s stake to be reduced to zero by 2017, the stock offering still left Russia in control of 33% of Alrosa, with regional and municipal governments holding another 33%.The deal, which attracted mostly Russian and European investors, is trying to turn the page on a period under President Vladimir Putin when privatisation came in fits and starts. Snarling and often reversing the process were state takeovers that by mid-2015 put the government in control of about 55% of the economy and employing 28% of the workforce, estimated as the highest share in 20 years. It is that history that will haunt Russia’s plans to put some of its mos...

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