Czechs Expect Smoother Privatization Sale: The final round of Czech Republic state asset sales through vouchers will be more efficient than last year’s, said Roman Ceska, first deputy minister at the Czech Privatization Ministry. The government is preparing to sell shares in everything from the state phone company to large steelmakers, Ceska said. The planned sale of state assets in about 500 to 600 companies, worth about $3.4 billion, to citizens and investment funds heralds the winding down of the government’s privatization ministry, set up to approve the sale of state-owned companies. The process should be quicker than last year’s, when shares in about 1,000 Czech companies were sold through the voucher scheme. “There are thousands of companies not totally sold in the first wave” of voucher privatization, Ceska said. Many still have a small number of state shares outstanding that will be sold on the capital markets, he said. In the voucher scheme, citizens receive voucher booklets for a small sum, then bid points on companies in which they want to buy shares. Last year, most citizens gave up their voucher points to investment funds, which made the investment decisions for them. The government plans to release a list of companies to be sold through the voucher scheme by the end of September, with bidding starting by early next year.
From Times Staff and Wire Reports