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    Gref calls for reforms, IPOs in defense industry

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    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's economics minister called Friday for thorough reform of the defense industry, including floating industry enterprises on international markets.

    "[We need to] reform defense industry enterprises, including by initial public offerings of their shares on international markets, which would bring in additional funds for future development," German Gref said.

    He said "fiscal privatization" should not be the main reform mechanism in the industry.

    "What is important is to provide the companies with [financial] resources and then to monitor how effectively they are used," Gref said.

    The Irkut Corporation (RTS: IRKT), Russia's leading aerospace company, became the first defense industry firm to IPO in March 2004. The IPO raised $127 million, and 23% of Irkut's shares were sold.

    Gref also said private companies should be invited to manage state-controlled defense industry assets, as state-appointed officials are not always efficient and knowledgeable in this sphere.

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