Iran to Privatize $90 bln of Energy Assets

A02556042.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) – Iran plans to privatize 47 firms in its energy sector worth $90 billion and set up a holding company for these assets which it will list on four international exchanges, a National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) executive said.

The plan would see the oil and gas companies put under an umbrella group to attract foreign investment, Hojatollah Ghanimifard, director of international affairs at NIOC told the London-based Middle East Economic Digest (MEED).

He said the firms would also be listed in Tehran by 2014.

“We decided the Iranian stock exchange may need to have some support financially from outside stock exchanges, especially for the oil sector, because the money involved is too much (for Iran),” Ghanimifard told the magazine, without naming the firms.

Iran, the world’s fourth-largest crude exporter, tried to revive its stalled privatization plan in 2006 by ordering the floating of 80 percent of several firms. But it said the upstream oil sector and key banks would remain in state hands.

The 2006 list included NIOC subsidiaries, such as Petropars, set up in 1998 to help develop part of Iran’s huge South Pars gas field and which has since signed energy deals in Venezuela.

Other NIOC subsidiaries included Petroiran Development Company and North Drilling Company. Firms affiliated to Iran’s petrochemical industry were also on the list.

Deals have already been signed to list the holding company on markets in two of Iran’s neighbors and two Asian countries, Ghanimifard said, adding that more details would be given by the end of March. He declined to name the exchanges.

“Today, the valuation award is something close to a $90 billion book value, ” Ghanimifard said. “But at the time they go to the stock market, based on the bidding you will see from those that want to buy it, the total amount will be more than that.”

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