Armenia to Privatize 90 Percent of Industry by Year End

KIEV (Reuters)–Armenia aims to sell 90 percent of state enterprises by the end of 1998–including its famous brandy industry–Minister of Industry Garnik Nanagulian said Saturday.

The majority of businesses would be sold through public offers–although management and employee buy-outs would also be used–he told a seminar at the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

"By the end of 1998 we are expecting to have sold almost 90 percent of enterprises," the minister said.

"For 1998 we hope to sell the Yerevan cognac factory… many hotels–mines–energy facilities–airports and airlines."

Armenia’sold a 90 percent stake in its telecommunications business ArmenTel to OTE of Greece in late 1997 in a move signaling a pick-up in privatization which had stalled earlier in the year.

Privatization and an increased drive to lure overseas companies to a country with average income per capita of just $430 in 1997 should lift foreign investment by at least 40 percent from last year’s $50 million–he said.

Armenia’s central bank chairman Tigran Sarkisyan said national output–which slumped by 60 percent between 1991 and 1993–should accelerate in 1998–with real GDP growing by 6.9 percent.

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