Uzbekistan announces $12bn in deals after launching privatization drive

Uzbekistan announces $12bn in deals after launching privatization drive
Updated 06 November 2015
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Uzbekistan announces $12bn in deals after launching privatization drive

Uzbekistan announces $12bn in deals after launching privatization drive

TASHKENT: Uzbekistan signed memorandums and deals on investment projects worth a total of $12.4 billion with foreign firms on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov said, after announcing plans to privatize more than 1,200 companies.
Azimov did not name the companies involved or provide any other details such as the breakdown between finalised agreements and preliminary memorandums.
But earlier in the day he told an investment conference foreigners would be offered stakes in 68 large companies such as Kizilkumcement, the country's biggest cement maker, chemical producer Ferganaazot and electronics plant Foton.
The announcement follows a similar move by neighboring Kazakhstan which said this week it would sell government stakes in dozens of companies. Central Asia's economies face headwinds from a drop in energy prices and slowdowns in Russia and China, their major trading partners.
Azimov said the scheme aimed "to attract strategic investors who are able to bring new technology and equipment (and) organize the production of modern and competitive products".
He said foreign investors would initially be able to buy only minority stakes although that would also would give them priority rights to buy the firms out completely in the future.
Azimov provided no financial details of the plan and Uzbekistan does not have a liquid stock market, making it difficult to value local companies.
But Kizilkumcement, for example, said in a report on its website it had made a profit of 176.141 billion sums (about $66 million) last year and planned to produce 3.4 million tonnes of cement this year.
Predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan is the most populous nation in the ex-Soviet Central Asia with a population of 31 million. Its main exports are cotton, natural gas and metals.