Svyazinvest privatization deadline still not specified

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MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russian IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman would not offer a deadline for Svyazinvest's privatization, but believes time is short for privatization this year.

"It is hard to name a deadline, but this year there is too little time left for privatization," the minister told the media on Tuesday.

"Whether it is December 2005 or January 2006 makes no difference," he said.

Earlier, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Sharonov told the media that the draft decree on Svyazinvest's privatization had not been coordinated with uniformed services yet.

"We shall continue to work with the uniformed services to pinpoint problems and seek for solutions," Leonid Reiman commented on the situation. "We shall act in line with appropriate procedures."

Svyazinvest has been put on 2005 privatization list.

According to Economic Development Minister German Gref, the government will start working out "a specific privatization procedure and methods" only after the president has decreed Svyazinvest's privatization.

"It is likely to boil down to selling 75% of shares minus one share. However, the terms and procedures have still to be discussed," German Gref said.

The Svyazinvest state-owned holding company exercises control over seven inter-regional communications companies and national long-distance communications operator Rostelecom. The holding company earned about 185 billion rubles in 2004. 75% of its stock minus one share is owned by the government, with the rest belonging to Leonard Blavatnik, a co-owner of Access Industries.

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