RIGA - The Latvian government decided to sell its shares in Ventspils Nafta to the public on June 28, thus breaking a deadlock that had ensued after the company's private owners refused to cooperate with the government.
Economy Minister Krisjanis Karins told journalists that the Latvian Privatization Agency would have to agree on the best way to sell the shares, be it the Riga Stock Exchange or foreign exchanges.
"The government ordered the LPA to sell as many Ventspils Nafta shares as possible at the highest price possible," said the minister, adding that the sales prices must not drop below 1.81 lats (2.57 euros) per share, the average price quoted on June 28.
Karins said the government did not decide to sell the entire 38.62 percent in Ventspils Nafta all at once or in parts, as this decision was up to the LPA, which was given three months to make the proposal.
Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said there should be no problem with selling at least the 31 percent stake held by the state, but a debate could ensue over the remaining 7 percent as specific sales terms, laid down in privatization regulations, developed earlier.
He added that the state's shares could be sold in several blocks to ensure maximum proceeds.
Latvijas Naftas Tranzits, the company's largest shareholder, said it would not buy the state-held shares. Spokeswoman Gundega Varpa earlier mentioned that the company approved of the Economy Ministry's suggestion to sell, since the company would only receive EU development funds if the state owned less than 25 percent.