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Ukraine: Long-awaited reprivatization gets under way

After months of debate about the number of companies to be reprivatized, progress is made

Ukraine's largest steel maker, Krivorozhstal, is to be resold in October, in the first sign that government wrangling that has lasted for months is beginning to be resolved. The disputes have concerned the extent to which some of the most controversial company privatizations made under the previous administration should be reversed, with the companies in question being put up for sale again. Since president Viktor Yushchenko  was swept to power in last December's Orange Revolution, the president and his prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, have been embroiled in public arguments about the number of companies to be reprivatized.

Yushchenko has been trying to calm investors' fears of a widescale investigation into privatizations running into the thousands by saying the number should be limited to "dozens".

The Ukrainian authorities have set the minimum asking price for a 93% stake in Krivorozhstal at $2 billion, which would make it one of the largest ever privatizations in the CIS.

The auction date is set for October 24. "Given the Ukrainian steel company's scale we believe $2 billion is a reasonable starting price and indeed the Ukrainian government may end up fetching more as there is a dearth of such major steel assets in Europe," says Timothy McCutcheon, a metals and industrials research analyst at Aton Capital.

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