SPP sale launched with FT ad

The government published an ad in the Financial Times August 31 launching the sale of a 49% stake in gas utility SPP, with potential investors receiving information memoranda by the end of September.

The sale of the firm, the world's second largest gas distributor, will be the biggest in Slovakia's history, as the company has been valued at between $6 and $8 billion.

However, the privatisation has been clouded by controversy over its past management during the last government under Vladimír Mečiar from 1994-1998.

Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Mikloš said September 3 that promissory notes signed by former gas utility SPP boss Ján Ducký, who was murdered in January 1999, pledging the firm to pay untold hundreds of millions of crowns, will have to be removed from SPP's accounts before the 49% stake is sold.

Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová has said income from the privatisation of SPP will be largely employed to pay down the national debt (by 102 billion crowns) and to create a second 'pillar' for pension reform (55 billion crowns).

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