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Czech govt starts airline sale, looks for adviser

PRAGUE, April 2 (Reuters) - The Czech government launched the sale of flagship airline CSA on Wednesday by announcing a tender for a privatisation adviser.

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said the tender for the adviser would start on April 15, and the winner would then recommend a timetable and a method of the sale.

“After an adviser is chosen and presents us a document (on how to proceed), we hope to finish the privatisation within months,” Topolanek said after a government meeting.

A study from consultants Deloitte Advisory recommended a sale to a strategic investor in a tender, the government said on its Web site wwww.vlada.cz.

Topolanek did not give any estimate of the expected revenue, but analysts have said the state could raise around 5 billion crowns ($312.1 million) for its 91.5 percent stake.

The airline has gone through a restructuring programme to recover from three years of losses after a costly expansion of its fleet, and agreed to sell its cargo and catering divisions.

The firm reported a net profit of 111 million crowns last year after a loss of 396 million in 2006, based on Czech accounting standards. It expects a net profit of 391 million crowns in 2008.

CSA, a member of the Skyteam alliance which also includes Air France-KLM AIRF.PA and Delta Air Lines DAL.N and Alitalia AZPIa.MI, operates a fleet of around 50, mostly mid-range planes.

The Czech government also plans to start the privatisation of Prague’s main airport, Letiste Praha, expected to bring in of up to 100 billion crowns. The cabinet should discuss the sale within two to three weeks, a spokesman for the finance ministry said. (Reporting by Jan Korselt; Editing by Paul Bolding)

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