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By Peter Hobson
LONDON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Cyprus will renew its attempt to privatise state telecoms group Cyta next year after previously failing to get approval to sell it all, putting legislation before parliament in January to allow the sale of a minority stake.
Sweeping privatisation was a condition of a 10 billion euro ($10.7 billion) bailout programme from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rescue Cyprus from economic meltdown in 2013.
“We aim and hope to take the new structure to parliament within January,” the Cypriot Finance Ministry’s commissioner of privatisations Constantinos Herodotou said at an Economist event in London on Wednesday.
After failing to secure parliamentary backing for the sale of 100 percent of Cyta, the country’s biggest telecoms company, the government is now in the “final stages” of drafting legislation to sell a minority stake.
It is considering selling between 25 and 49 percent of Cyta’s shares, but would draw up the sale in a way that would grant management control to the minority shareholder, he said.
Cyprus also aimed to submit a bill for the full privatisation of Cyta’s Greek arm, Cyta Hellas, “separately and probably earlier” than for its parent company.
“The timing for this, assuming we get all the necessary final approvals, will be to launch the transaction around March or April 2017,” Herodotou said.
Cyta is one of several companies on a new privatisation list, which is subject to parliamentary approval.
The bailout programme ended in March, but the European Central Bank and the European Commission said in September the government had slowed its efforts to reform.
Cypriot Finance Minister Harris Georgiades told the same event in London that the government would “have another go” at convincing parliament to back the Cyta sales. ($1 = 0.9321 euros) (Editing by Alexander Smith)