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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Plans Increase in Shares To Target Foreign Investment

KIEV -- Ukraine plans to increase the number of companies selling shares targeted at foreign investors in an effort to breathe life into its privatization program, a government adviser said Thursday.

"So far we're seeking foreign investment for 208 companies, but the list eventually will increase," said Myron Wasylyk, adviser to the State Property Fund, the state privatization agency.

Ukraine has been criticized in the past for the slow pace of privatization, and it has attracted only about $1.5 billion in foreign investment since independence in 1991.

The government intends to finish the planned sale of 70 percent of shares in about 5,000 companies by the end of the year under a program submitted to the parliament last week.

Stakes of more than 70 percent in more than 3,800 of these firms have been sold since 1995, and privatization of small businesses is nearly complete.

The next stage is conversion of about 8,000 large- and medium-size enterprises into joint-stock companies for potential share issues. The program also envisions a rise in foreign investment to $1.4 billion a year in 1999 from a forecast $832 million this year.

Under the scheme, so-called strategic foreign investors buying shares in selected companies must agree to modernize them and make them profitable within a set period.

The State Property Fund has also asked parliament to remove vetoes placed in 1994 and 1995 on the sale of 1,250 of the 6,500 strategic enterprises which were part of the military-industrial complex during the Soviet era.

?Sweden's Pripps Ringnes AB brewery signed a $10 million deal for 50 percent of Ukraine's Slavutych beer brewer, a Swedish trade official said Thursday.

"There is a commitment to invest $10 million in modernizing and improving the production facilities," Ulf Laurin of the Swedish Employers' Confederation, told a trade conference.

Pripps Ringnes is owned by Norwegian food conglomerate Orkla and Swedish auto group Volvo.