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    KRIVOROZHSTAL TO BE RENATIONALIZED?

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    KIEV, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - A trial, which is arguably the highest-profile legal battle of the kind, is beginning in Ukraine to revise the privatization. Ukraine's Supreme Court on Tuesday starts a hearing on whether law was violated in privatizing Krivorozhstal, the major Ukrainian integrated iron-and-steel works, the court's spokesperson said.

    The Supreme Court launched the cassation proceedings on February 17 at the initiative of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General. Privatization violations recorded by the Prosecutor General's Office have not been published yet.

    In June last year, the Investment Metallurgy Alliance consortium came up on top in the competition for 93.02% of Krivorozhstal's shares, having paid $802 million for the controlling stock and met the requirements of the Ukrainian State Property Fund. The consortium is controlled by the System Capital Management company and Interpipe corporation, which are said to be controlled by known businessmen Rinat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk, a son-in-law of the former Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma.

    The current Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko has repeatedly called for revision of the privatization during his presidential election campaign. He referred to the fact that Krivorozhstal's shares had been sold on the cheap even though there were bids to the tune of more than $1 billion, with Ukrainian politicians asserting the company is worth at least $3-4 billion.

    The Ukrainian government led by Yulia Timoshenko has begun to work on renationalizing Krivorozhstal. In mid-February, the government invalidated the resolutions on the procedure of auctioning the company's shares.

    In parallel to the legal proceedings launched by the Supreme Court, a number of other courts are entertaining actions against the privatization of Krivorozhstal.

    Earlier, Mr. Pinchuk said Mr. Akhmetov and him "were ready to accept any court decision".

    "However, we also hope the Ukrainian president will accept any decision, too, even if it runs counter to his views," Mr. Pinchuk said in his interview with the Korrespondent magazine in mid-February.

    Mr. Yushchenko said that the privatization of about 30 companies would be reconsidered.

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