MINSK The Belarussian government hopes to raise up to $7 billion from the sale of a minority stake in potash producer Belaruskali to help replenish state coffers, Belarussian First Deputy Prime Minister said on Wednesday.
"The country needs money. There is nothing bad if we can sell part of an asset, fetching a significant sum of $6-7 billion," Vladimir Semashko said during a parliament meeting.
He also said the government would sell a non-blocking stake in the firm, or less than 25 percent, and that an acquisition of the stake by China or a Chinese company would make sense.
"China is one of the largest buyers of our fertilizers so if China becomes a holder of a certain stake, this would guarantee uninterrupted supplies," he said.
The parliament of Belarus voted this month to lift restrictions on privatization of Belaruskali. The company owns 50 percent of the Belarussian Potash Co, a joint venture with Russian miner Uralkali (URKA.MM) URKAq.L that controls about 30 percent of the world potash market.
In May, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Belarus may sell a minority stake in Belaruskali, but will retain a controlling stake.
(Reporting by Andrey Makhovsky; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Hans Peters)