Court lifts LASCO freeze

  • 2002-07-11
  • Agence France Presse

Trading in shares issued in the 51 percent flotation of the Latvian Shipping Company, one of Europe's largest shippers, resumed on Riga Stock Exchange July 8 after a court lifted an earlier freeze on trading in the shares, said a stock exchange spokeswoman.

Court spokeswoman Anita Polce said Latvia's Privatization Agency and Riga Stock Exchange had together paid a court bailiff 30,000 lats ($50,000) - the maximum they could be forced to pay in damages by Riga's Central District Court in the event that a challenge to last month's privatization on the stock exchange proved successful.

Cyprus registered Fernadero Limited, a subsidiary of Britain's Beacon Shipping, is continuing to challenge the share sale from which it claims to have been illegally excluded, said Polce.

The stock exchange's spokeswoman, Krista Grintale, said Fernadero's claim was groundless.

"The real story is their bid was late," Grintale said.

A major portion of the company is now in the hands of the Latvia-based oil transit company Ventspils Nafta, which itself is 43.2 percent state-owned, Guntis Karklins, a spokesman for the privatization agency told AFP earlier.

The flotation of the 51 percent stake in the shipping company on the Riga Stock Exchange is expected to raise 60.4 million euros ($59.80 million) for Latvia.

It follows the sale in April of a 32 percent stake to Latvian buyers who paid with privatization vouchers, which were issued to the public after the end of Soviet rule in the Baltic state.

The shares issued in April were unaffected by the week-long suspension in trading which was lifted late on July 5.

The shipping company, one of Europe's largest shippers, has a registered capital of 200 million lats and specializes in carrying oil and liquid gas products.