* Ministry has already hired underwriters for share sale
* Proceeds from sale to be used for reconstruction of
(Adds details of plan)
TOKYO Nov 16 Japan's Ministry of Finance said
on Friday it will not sell shares in Japan Tobacco
before the end of December, delaying the raising of funds for
rebuilding areas hit by last year's earthquake and tsunami.
The ministry's announcement came on the day Japan dissolved
parliament's lower house and set a Dec. 16 general election that
is likely to lead to a change of government.
The ministry, which now holds 50 percent of Japan Tobacco
shares, has already selected JPMorgan Chase & Co, Daiwa
Securities, Goldman Sachs and Mizuho Securities
as underwriters for the offering.
Japan Tobacco had said earlier it would buy back about 250
billion yen of its outstanding shares if the government proceeds
with the share sale.
Japan's parliament last year passed a set of bills for tax
hikes and other steps, including sales of the government stakes
in state-owned companies, to help pay for rebuilding after the
devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Japan last month also unveiled plans to sell shares of Japan
Post Holdings Co, which runs the nation's biggest savings
institution, within three years to raise money for
Japan Tobacco has 10 million outstanding shares. Under
current law, the ministry can only sell up to 1.66 million
shares in Japan Tobacco so that it maintains a one-third stake.
At current market prices, the sale would help Japan raise 376
billion yen ($4.6 billion).
($1 = 81.1000 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Takaya Yamaguchi; Writing by Junko Fujita;
Editing by Michael Watson and Muralikumar Anantharaman)