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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Azeri Privatization Plan Goes To President Aliyev In Days

BAKU -- Foreign investors in Azerbaijan may soon have a chance to take a stake in enterprises coming up for privatization but it is unclear when they will be offered prize assets in key sectors such as oil and telecoms.

A senior presidential administration official said Monday that the long-awaited privatization program was likely to be accepted by the end of June.

"It should all be ready by the end of June," said Mayil Ragimov, head of the economic policy department at the presidential administration.

The program, which will allow for the eventual sell-off of some of the country's strategic assets, is expected to go to President Haydar Aliyev for approval in the next few days.

By the end of this month, Aliyev is likely to sign the program into effect and issue a decree on the privatization law that parliament passed on May 16.

Azeri plans to privatize prized state assets such as state oil company SOCAR and the state airline AZAL ground to a halt last year.

Adoption of a new law was crucial for the framework of the program, which will cover the next three years.

Ragimov said the law removes some restrictions on foreign participation in the process and allows foreign companies working in Azerbaijan to buy privatization vouchers without being required to buy options to use the cheques.

"There's nothing concrete in the new law and all the decisions still rest with the president," said Tanvir Aftab, head of Minaret investment bank, which holds a lot of vouchers.

The program is structured so that Aliyev can decide the exact amount of shares to be sold off, the proportion of cash sales and the timetable for the sell-off of each enterprise.

Enterprises likely to be privatised this year include Ferrous Metals Scrap (Vtorchermet) and Azerialyuminii, which is a merger of Sumgait Non-Ferrous Metals plant, Ganga Alumina and Zeylinsky bauxite mining company.