Kuwait parliament gives nod to privatization bill

13 May 2010

(MENAFN) Kuwait’s parliament approved a privatization legislation that would allow the sale of government-owned entities, including some downstream energy assets, Reuters reported.

In the parliament’s initial vote last month, several members opposed the inclusion of any energy assets in the privatization bill, saying that these assets should remain under the state control to avoid corruption.

Kuwait’s oil and gas fields are off-limits to foreign investment and the new legislation left them that way. Kuwait’s public utilities are held by the government, which heavily subsidizes them.

The new legislation excludes the privatization of the production of oil and natural gas, oil refineries and the health and education sectors.

The new bill leaves the government with a stake no higher than 20 percent of privatized firms. Forty percent will be offered in an initial public offering to Kuwaiti nationals, according to the bill approved by the parliament.

At least 35 percent of the shares will be offered in a public auction open to local listed shareholding firms, and other firms that the council approves, says the new bill that has to be also approved by the cabinet and the emir.

A Supreme Privatization Council, which will be headed by the prime minister, will draw up the policies of the offerings, and all privatized firms should be sharia-compliant.

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