Three investors placed bids for the Lithuanian state shipping company last week, setting the stage for a successful sell-off, said privatization officials.
According to Antanas Malikenas, director of privatization at the State Property Fund, the three bidders for the Lithuanian state shipping company Lietuvos Juro Laivininkyste came from the initial nine companies that had acquired the information documents in February.
At present, the names of the three bidders are not being released, pending an analysis of their submissions and to allow time for SPF officials to ask clarifying questions.
However, the local press has named Transpetro Ltd, a Russian-owned company registered in Cyprus, DG Shipmanagement, a Russian-owned company registered in Germany, and Lithuania's Baltlanta.
One of the bidders is expected to include representatives of LJL, who have been allowed to bid for the company from within the consortium of other investors.
In order to qualify for the bidding process, investors had to have at least five years of experience in maritime shipping and undertake to retain at least 70 percent of the current work force.
The three investors are vying for a 66 percent stake in LJL.
Malikenas stated that the winner would be chosen on the criteria of price offered and necessary future investment into the company. A lower price would be considered if sufficient future investment were promised.
At this point, a time-limit has not been placed on the key privatization, but it is expected that the successful buyer will chosen by the State Property Fund in the first half of the year.
The government has placed a value of 0.15 litas (0.04 euro) per share for the offering, valuing the stake at 20.1 million litas, placing a total market value of 30.1 million litas on the company.
The state currently owns 73.24 percent of the shipper, while the Danish company DFSD Tor Line owns 6.34 percent.
LJL was established in 2001 as the previous state-owned transportation company LISCO was split into separate ferry and dry-cargo operations.
The remaining 7 percent of the state's stake is to be placed in a state-run compensation fund for landowners who lost real estate during the Soviet period.
Based upon figures released at the end of February, LJL posted an unaudited profit of just over 1 million litas on a turnover of over 90 million litas in 2002.
Working out of Klaipeda since 1969, the company operates a fleet of 18 ships that carry a range of cargoes including bulk, wood and containers to worldwide destinations.
This sale follows the completed tender of the less-profitable Klaipeda Transport Fleet, which was won by Limarko UAB, a Kaunas-based shipping company.