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Svyazinvest might not be privatized this year
Russia's information technology and communications minister suggested Svyazinvest, the national operator of long-distance and international telephone services, might not be privatized this year. "It's not clear, there is little time left. Therefore, (the privatization( can be postponed till early next year," Mikhail Reiman told reporters following the investment conference organized by Renaissance Capital, Russia's leading investment group. Reiman said the government's draft decree on the privatization of Svyazinvest had been sent to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry that was expected to coordinate it anew with other ministries involved. The telephone operator was included in the list of enterprises to be privatized in 2005. However, the privatization process has dragged on as Svyzinvest has to be stricken off the list of strategic enterprises. The economics ministry submitted a relevant draft presidential decree to the government in April. However, the draft is yet to be approved by security agencies. The government will only start working over a "specific privatization procedure" when the decree on Svyazinvest's privatization is approved, said Economic Development Minister German Gref. "Seventy-five percent minus one share (i.e. the state's share block) will most likely be sold. But all conditions and arrangements are yet to be discussed," said the minister. Svyzinvest is one of the world's largest telephone operators. Its authorized capital was formed of the state-owned shares in the telecommunications companies that evolved from privatized telecommunications enterprises. The Svyazinvest group includes seven major inter-regional entities, four open stock companies, among them Giprosvyaz and Rostelecom, Russia's largest inter-city and international operator. The holding's revenues in 2004 were around $6.5 billion.
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