PIA sale to start in June

London/Karachi—Pakistan will begin the marketing process next month to sell a 49 percent stake in Pakistan International Airlines and plans to list shares in several power utility firms this year, privatisation minister Mohammad Zubair said on Monday.
“We are going to start the soft marketing in June,” Zubair told Reuters, in an interview on the sidelines of an investment conference organised by Renaissance Capital.
“We have to understand the market, and what the market is looking for,” he added.
“We are looking for another investor, it could be an airline but doesn’t have to be, but we are just looking for one.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had made the privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) a top goal when he came to power in 2013.
Parliament adopted a law in April to convert PIA into a limited company but it prevented the government from giving up management control.
Zubair said this clause would apply only for a two-year period, after which the government could sell the whole stake.
The privatisation of 68 state-owned companies, including loss-making enterprises such as PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills and power distribution companies, is a major element of a $6.7 billion International Monetary Fund package that helped Pakistan stave off a default in 2013.
Fierce resistance to privatisation by opposition parties and labour unions has made the programme politically sensitive.
The power firm privatisations had appeared to have stalled, but Zubair said they would go ahead this year. The government plans to list shares in 10-20 percent of each firm on the domestic stock exchange, making the firms more transparent and accountable.—Reuters

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