Bids Received for Latvian Shipping Privatization

Thursday, April 05, 2001
The Latvian Privatization Agency said on Thursday it had received two bids for the government's 68 percent stake in Latvian Shipping, one of the world's largest oil products transporters.

"We have two contenders who expressed interest in participating in the Latvian Shipping privatization and have made their bids," said the economy minister, who heads the privatization agency's council.

The agency did not name the bidders and the government has not provided estimates on the size of the sale. The Latvian Cabinet is expected to set the minimum price for the auction on April 10, while the auction itself will take place in May. The government has been trying to privatize the company since 1996, but its previous attempts have failed due to a lack of interest and political bickering.

Latvian Shipping - which operates 49 vessels, including 34 tankers - was the world's third largest shipping firm in terms of oil product handling in 1999.

One London analyst said Shipping's eight medium-range petroleum products tankers were the most desirable part of the fleet, and they might appeal to some of the listed U.S. tanker operators such as OMI Corp. or Stelmar.

A tanker analyst, however, said that age and quality might be an issue, since 26 of the company's tankers range between the ages of 15 and 26 years old. Six of the 28,000 ton ships were Russian-built, although the 42,000 ton ships were built in prestigious Far Eastern yards.

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