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Most Divestitures Awarded to Real Private Sector

Mar 13, 2018, 6:34 AM
News ID: 23958

EghtesadOnline: Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian said over 70% of the divestitures during the tenure of President Hassan Rouhani have gone to the real private sector as opposed to the previous administration whose privatization performance has been widely criticized.

Karbasian made the announcement at an event on privatization, which focused on Justice Shares, in Tehran on Sunday, which was also attended by First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, Mehr News reported.

“The primary goal of privatization, which includes the payment of Justice Shares, has been to reduce the role of government in the economy and make it people-oriented,” he said. 

Justice Shares were launched by the previous government at the height of the privatization process in 2006 to include the lower-income classes in the national wealth by giving them shares of public-sector assets. The shares, however, were not given an official status until recently, Financial Tribune reported. 

Karbasian added that while most of the privatization in the past was in the form of debt swap, all but two divestitures in the current period has avoided that fate. 

The privatization process gathered momentum in the mid-2000s when the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei issued a decree, expounding the Iranian Constitution’s Article 44 and recognizing the private sector as an integral part of the Iranian economy.   

However, the real private sector seemed to have gotten the shorter end of the stick as most winners of the tenders turned out to be either entities affiliated with the government or non-governmental public entities. 

Karbasian also heralded a new wave of privatization in the coming days, which he described as the biggest one under the current administration. 

The Iranian Privatization Organization had earlier announced that its biggest privatization initiative so far this fiscal year (March 21, 2017-18) would be worth over 90 trillion rials ($2 billion). 

The sales include a 100% stake in Moghan Agro, Industry and Livestock Company priced at about 22 trillion rials ($488.88 million) that included the sale of 10% share in cash and the rest in eight-year installments.

Next is the government’s 40% share in Pars Agricultural Inc. with a base price of 2.2 trillion rials ($48.88 million), 10% of which will be paid in cash and the rest in six-year installments.

IPO’s privatizations in the energy sector include a 100% stake in Isfahan Power Plant valued at 21.8 trillion rials ($484.44 million) and Isfahan Power Plant Management Company valued at 45 billion rials ($1 million). 

According to Mehr News Agency, the government sold 4.54 trillion rials ($98.27 million) worth of public companies’ shares to the private sector in the first 10 months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Jan. 20).

About 3.95 trillion ($86.3 million) of the total figure were sold via tenders, while 102 billion rials ($2.28 million) were floated on the capital market.

Karbasian also referred to the sale of banks’ excess properties, putting the figure at 10 trillion rials ($222.56 billion).

Banks’ excess assets mostly accumulated in the form of real estate during the housing boom of 2011-12, which proved to be a bubble that ended up in a long-running recession.