Latvia's privatization agency said on Thursday several potential bidders were interested in a 68 percent stake in Latvian Shipping
. The deadline to submit such expressions of interest is February 1 and this tender is the fourth attempt to sell the controlling stake in the firm after previous attempts failed due to little interest and political bickering.
"We have several applications... more than one, from several continents," privatization agency head Janis Naglis told
a news conference. Economy Minister Aigars Kalvitis said
participation of international advisers and surveillance from local NGOs would secure transparency in the process. The 136 million state-held shares are expected to be sold and paid for by June.
The cabinet is expected to approve the initial list of potential bidders on February 13, and is expected to keep it confidential until the auction day. "Based on the advice from our consultants, we will not disclose either the names or number of bidders as long as possible," Kalvitis said.
The final auction is expected to take place in May. Latvian Shipping, the world's 19th largest shipping firm in tonnage terms, has budgeted a 2001 net profit of $5.6 million on planned turnover of $164.4 million. The privatization agency first started planning its sale in 1996.