* Public offering to run during Oct. 21-31
* Government approves price range of 24-32 lei (Adds analyst comment, more details)
BUCHAREST, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Romania has set a price range for a stock market listing of a 15 percent stake in state-owned gas producer Romgaz that aims to raise as much as 1.85 billion lei ($568 million) and that will value the company at about $3.7 billion.
The government approved a price range on Friday of 24-32 lei ($7.37-$9.83) per share in the sale, which will run from Oct. 21 to Oct. 31, Energy Minister Constantin Nita said.
The Romgaz sale is part of wider privatisation plans agreed between Romania and the International Monetary Fund under a two-year aid package for Romania, the European Union’s second poorest country.
Successive governments in Romania have made progress cutting the country’s budget deficit, but they have also repeatedly delayed reform of state-owned enterprises and efforts to sell-off state assets have been stop-and-go.
Earlier this year, Romania sold a 10 percent stake in nuclear power producer Nuclearelectrica, but failed to privatise its rail freight carrier CFR Marfa.
Other potential sales agreed with the IMF include hydro power producer Hidroelectrica, power distributor Electrica and coal-fired power holding Oltenia.
“Romgaz is a good asset,” said Daniel Hewitt, emerging Europe economist at Barclays Capital. “The listing gives it a market-oriented management, the government gets a nice chunk of change. It puts privatisation in Romania on a different level.”
Romgaz has a share of 50.1 percent of domestic natural gas output and supplied 41.7 percent of domestic consumption. The rest of the gas is extracted by rival oil and gas group Petrom, , controlled by Austria’s OMV,.
Romgaz said it planned to apply for the shares to be traded on the Bucharest Stock Exchange and for global depository receipts (GDRs) to be admitted to the London Stock Exchange.
It named Goldman Sachs International and Erste Group Bank AG as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners for the sale, while Banca Comerciala Romana SA and SSIF Raiffeisen Capital & Investment SA were appointed domestic lead managers. ($1 = 3.2563 Romanian lei) (Reporting by Luiza Ilie. Editing by Jane Merriman)