TBILISI, May 15 (Reuters) - Ukraine hopes to attract strategic investors with “long-term vision” with its planned sale of nearly 300 state-owned assets, the former Soviet republic’s economy minister said on Friday.
The pro-Western government in Kiev has drawn up a list of around 280 companies it hopes to privatise, earning up to 17 billion hryvnia ($821.26 million) in the process. The list includes three thermal power plants and 13 ports.
“Strategic investors with a good reputation, a transparent shareholders’ structure (with) a long-term vision, will be very welcome to invest in Ukraine,” Aivaras Abromavicius said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Tbilisi.
Ukraine’s government is trying to raise funds to shore up a near-bankrupt economy reliant on international aid. Among others it plans to sell off firms in port infrastructure, electricity generation and distribution, agriculture and the food industry.
Abromavicius said the government would press ahead with the privatisations after the appointment of a new state property fund head.
“I expect this appointment to take place next week,” said Abromavicius, who quit his job at Swedish asset management firm East Capital to join the Ukrainian government.
The number of state firms deemed ineligible for privatisation will be almost halved to 1,000, he added.
Parliament rejected a privatisation bill in January after deputies criticised the proposals as too extensive.
Abromavicius said the government would hold a series of meetings with investors in Europe and the United States to attract their interest in Ukraine.
“We can expect investments to come into the country only after stabilisation on the macroeconomic front, of course, but I believe the security situation will not deteriorate from now on and the worst of the macroeconomic numbers is already behind us,” he added.
The EBRD has predicted a greater than expected contraction of 7.5 percent in Ukraine’s economy this year.
An uneasy ceasefire is in place in eastern Ukraine where government forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists in a conflict in which more than 6,100 people have been killed. ($1 = 20.7000 hryvnias) (Editing by Gareth Jones)