Uzbekistan unveils details of huge privatisation programme

TASHKENT, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Uzbekistan will fully or partly privatise over 620 state-owned companies and properties to accelerate the Central Asian nation’s transition to a market economy, a presidential decree announced on Wednesday.

The decree included 32 of the largest state companies, including energy firm Uzbekneftegaz, gold and uranium miner Navoi Mining and Metallurgy Combine, Uzbekistan Airways and Uzbekistan Railways companies, and the Uzautosanoat car maker.

The privatisation campaign, the country’s biggest yet, is part of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s broader reform programme to implement market reforms to Uzbekistan’s economy which was run under a Soviet-style command system by his predecessor.

The decree listed 39 companies, including silver and gold miner Almalyk Mining and Metals Combine, several metallurgical plants and the Fergana oil refinery, where corporate governance would need to be tightened and financial audits carried out to attract foreign investment.

The Uzbek government also plans to prepare 69 companies in the oil and gas, construction, chemical, wine making, tourism and other sectors for privatisation and to sell all the shares at public auctions, it said.

The state’s shares in a further 479 companies would be fully privatised.

Property will also go under the hammer, including the State Security Service’s former headquarters in Tashkent, the main KGB building in Soviet times.

Uzbekistan’s State Asset Management Agency will hold the first public auctions from Nov. 1, according to the decree. (Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov Editing by William Maclean)