GOVERNMENT THINKS DE-PRIVATISATION OF SAYANO-SHUSHENSKAYA HYDRO PREMATURE

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MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government thinks the status of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro (Siberia) should not be changed until the Supreme Arbitration Court makes the final ruling, a source in the cabinet told RIA on Friday.

The Economic Development Ministry has provided an answer to the instructions of Vice-Premier Alexander Zhukov concerning the situation around the hydro. The ministry suggests that no de-privatisation actions should be taken until the court makes the final ruling on the dispute. RIA has learned that Mr. Zhukov accepted and supported this idea of the ministry.

The vice-premier had instructed the ministry to ponder the March 12 ruling of the Arbitration Court of the Siberian Federal District that recognised the privatisation of the hydro as illegal.

According to Deputy Minister Andrei Sharonov, the ministry discussed the legal and organisational mechanisms of the de-privatisation of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro joint stock company (JSC). "We had been instructed by Vice-Premier Alexander Zhukov to accept in federal ownership the JSC's property and discussed the legal and organisational mechanism of this process," said Mr. Sharonov.

"The hydro can become the property of the state, thus creating a precedent. But this has not happened so far," he added.

On March 12 this year, the Arbitration Court of the Siberian Federal District granted the appeal of the government of the republic of Khakassia (Siberia) on recognising the privatisation of the hydro as null and void. The republican arbitration court had dismissed a similar appeal twice.

The Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro is the country's largest hydro power station located in Khakassia. Its aggregate capacity is 6,721 mW and annual output, 24.5 bln kWh. RAO UES owns 78.9% of its stake. In the first half of 2003, the hydro's revenues were 649.7 mln roubles and net profits, 94 mln roubles (1 dollar is approximately 29 roubles).

Khakassia did not become a shareholder during the hydro's privatisation, getting instead the right to buy electricity from it at the country's lowest, transfer prices. But this privilege will expire in 2004, which is why the government of Khakassia filed a suit in April 2003, demanding that the privatisation of the hydro to be recognised as null and void.

The Siberian Arbitration Court sent a letter to the federal government, suggesting that a person or agency be selected and authorised to accept the property of the hydro in federal ownership. When the court invalidated the privatisation deal, representatives of RAO UES said the energy holding would continue to fight and would address a supervision claim to the Supreme Arbitration Court.

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