France to sell-off stakes in toll highway operators

18th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 17 (AFP) - France is to begin Monday the sale of its remaining stakes in the country's three largest toll highway operators, Economy Minister Thierry Breton said in an article to appear in Les Echos newspaper.

PARIS, July 17 (AFP) - France is to begin Monday the sale of its remaining stakes in the country's three largest toll highway operators, Economy Minister Thierry Breton said in an article to appear in Les Echos newspaper.

The sale of the remaining majority stakes in the ASF, SANEF and APRR could bring in EUR 11 billion to the cash-strapped government, the newspaper estimated in its Monday edition.

Documents on the companies were to be available to potential investors on the economy ministry's website beginning Monday.

The deadline for preliminary offers has been set for August 22, with the government to hold competitive negotiations.

"The offers will not be legally binding even if they propose a price, which means they will be evaluated on different criteria," said Breton.

The government aims to wrap up the talks before the end of this year, but Breton did not mention how much the government hopes to get for the companies.

"The state prefers to be paid in cash rather than stocks," said Breton.

Transportation Minister Dominique Perben said the government had opted for an "extremely rigorous and transparent process" to sell off the companies.

Breton said the government, which is seeking to reduce its budget deficit below the three percent of GDP as required by the Growth and Stability Pact, would likely only receive the money from the sale next year.

Perben some of the funds raised would also go to support France's transportation development agency, AFITF.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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