Pakistan to start 'soft-marketing' state airline stake sale in June

The logo of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is seen in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

LONDON (Reuters) - Pakistan will next month begin the marketing process for selling a 49 percent stake in Pakistan International Airlines, and also plans to list shares in several power utility firms this year, privatisation minister Mohammad Zubair said on Monday.

“We are going to start the soft marketing in June,” he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an investment conference organised by Renaissance Capital.

“We have to understand the market, and what the market is looking for ... we are looking for another investor, it could be an airline but doesn’t have to be, but we are just looking for one.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had made the privatisation of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) a top goal when he came to power in 2013.

Parliament adopted a law in April to convert Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) into a limited company but it prevented the government from giving up management control.

But Zubai said this clause would apply only for a two-year period.

The PIA privatisation and that of almost 70 other state-owned companies is a major element of a $6.7 billion (4.6 billion pounds) three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) package that helped Pakistan stave off default in 2013 and that ends in September.

The power firms’ privatisations appeared to have stalled but Zubair said they would go ahead this year, with the government planning to list shares in 10-20 percent of the firms on the domestic stock exchange.

He said shares in the Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company Ltd would be floated in November, followed by the sale of shares in the Lahore and Islamabad power utility firms.

Reporting by Karin Strohecker, writing by Sujata Rao