Latvian Privatization Saga Continues

Wednesday, March 29, 2000
Stymied in its efforts to extract what it deems a reasonable market value, the Latvian government will decide on April 4 whether to proceed with the privatization of Latvian Shipping after a third tender to sell the firm failed. The government received only one bid for a 44 percent stake in the company, which was subsequently ruled invalid because the unnamed bidder failed to present all necessary documents and pay a $3.9 million security deposit and a 2,000 lat auction fee. The bidding deadline was March 27. "The government will evaluate three variants on further action. One variant is to stop Latvian Shipping's privatization, the second is to extend the application deadline and the third is to set a repeated tender," said Romans Melniks, spokesman for the economy minister. Latvian Shipping has already seen two previous attempts to privatize the company fail. In December, the agency set the tender for the Latvian Shipping stake, cutting the share price to 0.44 lats from 0.51 lats at a previous tender when the single bid from Russian LUKoil Arctic Tankers was deemed invalid. Two years earlier two firms -- Greek Lavinia and U.S. Tufton Oceanic -- had submitted bids but later pulled out after a lengthy delay and price change for the part of the stake by the government.

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